Hidden agenda?

A spokesman for Mayor Nir Barkat confirmed on Monday that Jerusalem’s mayor had a private meeting with former US ambassador Martin Indyk. In his capacity as adviser to George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s emissary to the Middle East, Indyk heard from Barkat all the details regarding the King’s Garden (Gan Hamelech) project. Recently approved by the local planning and construction committee, the project has raised new tensions between the two countries.

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It is not clear whether Barkat was using this opportunity to show an official member of the US administration the facts on the ground – namely not only the demolition of 22 houses but also the legalization of 66 houses already ruled for destruction by the court, and a vast program of rehabilitation and development of Silwan – or, as city council member Yair Gabai (Habayit Hayehudi) suspects, was seeking permission from the real boss, the one in Washington.

Considering the riots that wounded 10 security guards and border policemen and caused about the same number of casualties among Arab residents even before one house was demolished, the mayor probably had quite a lot to explain.

Chinks in his armor

Municipal legal adviser Yossi Havilio was recently awarded the title of Knight of Quality Government by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. The award may have been a much-needed comfort for the restless legal adviser, but it doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the tensions between Havilio and the mayor.

Last week, despite Havilio’s new public accolade, municipality director-general Yair Ma’ayan sent him a harsh letter accusing him of concealing important information from the mayor. According to Ma’ayan, Havilio had to inform him immediately that the judge at the local court ruled that Beit Yehonatan should not be sealed until at least the end of this month.

Another accusation Ma’ayan aimed at Havilio was “inappropriate behavior during the meeting of the local commission to choose new attorneys for the municipality’s legal department.” According to his close assistants, Havilio rejected both accusations, but the atmosphere between him and the mayor and his staff is becoming more and more toxic.

Rumors at Kikar Safra have it that the mayor has decided to fire Havilio, who thus far has managed to irritate two mayors and a long list of city council members.

Sacred and profane

As of this week, the Bible Lands Museum will be open on Shabbat, for the first time since it was established 18 years ago. The reason? “Angels and Demons: Jewish Magic through the Ages,” the current exhibition that is attracting thousands of visitors. Considering the high demand, the management of the museum decided to add Saturdays to the opening hours (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), including guided tours in English and Hebrew.

The skinny on a new skin treatment

For those suffering from skin ailments and going to the Dead Sea for therapeutic reasons, here is some good news. The Misgav Ladach Hospital – the first private medical center in the city – is offering skin treatment via a new device. The phototherapy ward, under the direction of Dr. Ephraim Sagi, offers a varied range of skin therapies, available to health fund clients.
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