This week in Jerusalem

This week in Jerusalem

December 10, 2009 19:42


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Living on top of the world The owners and developers of the new mall slated to open by the end of 2011 in Ramot have obtained the approval of the local planning and construction committee to build a neighborhood on its roof. Not only is this the first such project ventured in this city, but a good number of the apartments will be offered at affordable prices. The New House in Jerusalem company and Phoenix, already associates in the mall project, will build 250 relatively small apartments - up to 80 sq.m. each - atop the mall. One of the committee's conditions is that the developers also build an auditorium for the lofty neighborhood. Laying down the law Right-wing activist Aryeh King, known as the man behind the purchase of Arab properties in east Jerusalem to be handed over to Jewish settlers, has recently added a new activity to his roster. King, escorted by IDF soldiers mounted on armored vehicles, delivered municipal decrees against illegal construction in the Arab neighborhoods. After a long period during which the inspectors of the building permit department at Kikar Safra refrained from entering the Arab neighborhoods of the city, including those beyond the security barrier, King decided to give both sides a lesson. Accompanied by one of his fellow activists in the settler movement, last week he entered Arab neighborhoods where there are clear indications of massive illegal construction, and accomplished what he refers to as "enforcement of the laws." Since the second intifada started in 2000, the municipality's inspectors have avoided entering those parts of the city, as well as closer neighborhoods, including those in the Old City. It is interesting to note that King managed to convince the IDF to dispatch a few armored vehicles and soldiers as escort - something the municipality, for some reason, never tried to do. What remains to be seen is if the municipality will use King's services in cases of illegal construction by Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem. Office politics Innocent mistake? Sweet revenge? Who knows? One thing is sure: The head of the comptroller's committee and sole member of the opposition on the city council, Meir Turgeman, was not invited to participate in the historic visit of the state comptroller to the municipality. Justice Micha Lindenstrauss, who last week paid a visit to the municipality, was the guest of honor of Mayor Nir Barkat and also met his municipal counterpart, city comptroller Shlomit Rubin. The visit, which took place on Monday at city hall, ended with a festive meeting with the board members of the city administration and the high-ranking officials. All the deputy mayors were present, as well as a large number of city council members. Turgeman heard about the visit only after it was over and was outraged. "As chairman of the comptroller's committee, I believe I should have been invited, and the fact that I was not invited proves that this mayor doesn't work in transparency, contrary to his statements and involvement," Turgeman said. While Turgeman may be fuming, the municipality's official response is that since the visit was not focused on the work or issues of the committee, there was no reason to invite the chairman. Search and rescue The first course to teach yeshiva students in the city (and across the country) to work with dogs trained to locate and retrieve victims from disaster sites ended this week. Additional courses will open soon in other yeshivot in the city. In the project, launched by Zaka (Disaster Victims Identification) with the participation of the IAF and the special dogs unit of the IDF (Oketz), young yeshiva students learn to take care of the dogs and how to train them for these special missions. According to Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the project's purpose is twofold: to add a much-needed unit of trained dogs to Zaka and to give the youth an opportunity to develop their sense of responsibility and become part of the vision of the association - to share in preserving the well-being of all residents in all sectors of the population. Payment for damages A NIS 1 million fine was imposed by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court last week on the Pi Glilot gasoline company for the damage caused by soil pollution. The company, located on the slopes of Givat Shaul near the exit of the city, didn't take the necessary measures to prevent soil pollution. In 2004 and 2005, a stream close to the company's structures contained very high levels of gasoline and other polluting gas and oil, which flowed into the surrounding area, causing irrevocable damage to the soil and even to some of the nearby streams. According to the court, the company failed to comply with the conditions required to prevent such damage and thus was slapped with such a large fine. New look for an old facility The Jerusalem Foundation is inaugurating this week the renovations done to the retirement home at Beit Boyer. The refurbishment is thanks to a special grant of NIS 5 million and fulfills the requirements of a modern home according to Health Ministry standards. Some 35 elderly residents will now enjoy spacious, climate-controlled and fully furnished rooms, including TVs and acoustic ceilings. The rooms, which are accessible to the disabled, are shared by a maximum of two people. Urban incentive for artists Urbanica, a new project of the municipality and the Jerusalem Development Authority, was launched this week. Young artists and art students in the final year of their studies have been offered space for their work and creations, free of charge. In the Shukanion, near Mahaneh Yehuda, a large area has been allocated for individual spaces for artists in all media - painting, sculpture, video art, dancing and more. The artists are invited to stay in Jerusalem once their studies are finished and to create and exhibit their work here. Jerusalem has the largest number of beaux arts schools in the country, and the mayor and his administration have often said that they are looking for ways to keep the students in the city after they finish their studies. Urbanica is one answer. Local world music The Confederation House is launching its new series of world music, which will feature local musicians who will perform world music and original music created here. The series opened with a performance by singer Ilana Eliya, with traditional Kurdish music and songs, and continues this coming week with a program by the Yosef V'ehad group. The series will continue until the spring. For details, call the Confederation House at 624-5206.

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