THE Jerusalem Gateway project.
(photo credit: JERUSALEM MUNICIPALITY)
A Central Bureau of Statics report has once again ranked Jerusalem the country’s poorest large city. But the municipal officials are optimistic that several initiatives, including the hi-speed rail to Tel Aviv due in 2018 and a sprawling business district being built at the western entrance to the capital, will revitalize its long-foundering economy.
The report, published late last week, ranks the socioeconomic conditions of 255 communities in the country on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being best. Of the 255 municipalities polled, 201 were municipalities and 54 were regional councils.
Among cities with populations of at least 200,000, Jerusalem – which has roughly 828,000 residents and the nation’s highest concentrations of Arab and haredi residents – came in last, with a ranking of four.
The coastal city of Ashdod, which has a population of 216,000, came in second to last with a score of five.
Haifa, population 272,000, received a ranking of eight, edging out Tel Aviv, which received a seven amid its population of roughly 417,000 residents.
The common denominator among the country’s poorest communities – including el-Kasom, Shaqib el-Salam, Lakiya, Naveh Midbar, Tel as-Sabi, Betar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Hura, Rahat, Kuseifa and Ar’arat an-Naqab – was the high proportion of Arab, Beduin or haredi residents.
Petah Tikva, with a population of 218,000, and Rishon Lezion, with 237,000 residents, were ranked the most prosperous large cities with scores of seven, largely due to their growing proportions of young, educated residents.
The top-rated municipalities were Savyon and Kfar Shmaryahu, which both received rankings of 10. Har Adar, Ramat Hasharon, Shoham, Kfar Vradim, Meitar, Lehavim and Kochav Yair were all rated nine.
According to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, with an investment of NIS 1.4 billion, the Jerusalem Gateway Project will become the most prominent business district in the country, creating an estimated 40,000 jobs.
It will include 24 buildings spread out over 21.1 hectares (52 acres) near the central bus station, including 14 skyscrapers of at least 24 floors each and nine buildings with 36 floors.