Speaking in fluent English, Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Lion presented a
fourpoint plan to improve the city and answered questions from Anglo Jerusalem
residents at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center in the capital Sunday
The lecture was the first in a two-part series – and the first
public address by Lion in English – which will feature Mayor Nir Barkat at the
same venue Wednesday evening.
Lion focused on four core issues:
sanitation, construction, education and transportation.
the city is full of garbage,” he said.
“Whether you’re walking down the
streets or near your homes, it’s a big problem, and I’m going to deal with
To improve sanitation throughout the capital, Lion said he would
hire 300 additional garbage collectors by significantly increasing the
municipality’s current annual budget.
With respect to real estate costs
and construction, Lion noted Jerusalem’s unrealistically prohibitive housing
market and the need to mitigate current bureaucratic procedures hindering
builders from constructing new homes expeditiously.
“The prices of
apartments here have increased beyond housing prices in Tel Aviv,” he said.
“Prices have grown 70 percent. Why? Because we are building in Jerusalem – but
we have to make the city more affordable.”
Citing current building plans
that include thousands of new apartments in the capital, Lion proposed ideas to
efficiently expedite the process, including increasing the size of buildings to
house more families and marginalizing the municipality’s bureaucratic red
“I will lower the bureaucracy in the municipality to help builders
obtain construction permits far more quickly,” he said. “This is very important
In terms of education, Lion said it was unacceptable that
Jerusalem’s schools are ranked 144 out of 152 cities in the nation. He
emphasized the need to build hundreds of more classrooms and hire at least 2,000
more full-time teachers.
“The first problem is that in the last five
years there were about 220 classrooms built in Jerusalem, and we need a minimum
of 500,” he said.
“The second problem is we have 2,000 temporary
teachers, who the municipality fires after nine months because they cannot be
given permanent placement,” Lion continued.
“When I become mayor I will
give the 2,000 teachers permanent positions, which I believe will help improve
Addressing the high dropout rates in Jerusalem, Lion said he
would also increase the municipality’s education budget to help stymie the
“I must increase the education budget to accomplish all these
goals,” he said. “So, instead of holding expensive Formula 1 events in the city,
I will use that money to strengthen the education system.”
In terms of
transportation, Lion said he plans to lower congestion by adding more direct bus
“It’s a big problem with the buses because the city does not have
enough direct lines from neighborhood to neighborhood,” he said. “I will change
Responding to a question regarding illegal home construction in
east Jerusalem, Lion said his zero-tolerance stance on the issue is a key
difference between him and Barkat.
“This is exactly the difference
between me and Barkat,” he said. “I represent the right wing in Israel and the
public has to know the truth.”
Asked if he had a formal agreement with
the city’s sought-after haredi electorate, Lion dismissed the notion that any
such arrangement exists.
“I don’t have any agreement with the haredim –
if I did, I would tell the public,” he said.
“The fact is that they
support me, but we don’t have any agreement.”
Lion added that he hopes to
use his term as mayor to unite bickering factions within the city’s splintered
“My specialty is to unite the religious population – to
talk to them about how to live together with other populations in Israel,” he
To curtail the capital’s ongoing exodus of young residents
following graduation from high school and college, Lion said he would create
thousands of new jobs in the hitech and tourism sectors.
“Barkat said he
would create 100,000 jobs, and it’s a joke,” he said. “But I think you can
create a lot of jobs through hitech and creating more hotels to encourage
Challenged by one attendee about moving to Jerusalem only
shortly before running for mayor, Lion said his love and passion for the city
dates back many years as a civil servant and businessman working full time in
“I love Jerusalem very much,” he said. “In the last 15 years
I have worked a lot here, and I think when I become mayor you’ll see just how
much I love this city,” he said.
Barkat is scheduled to speak at the same
location Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.