The right step

A wrap of events in and around Jerusalem

INSIDE THE Jerusalem central post office: In a controversial decision, the Israel Post has announced it will relocate to Modi’in. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
INSIDE THE Jerusalem central post office: In a controversial decision, the Israel Post has announced it will relocate to Modi’in.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
"Contract workers” in this country is often a synonym for “poor employment conditions.” Contract workers are a favorite solution for employers to reduce the number of employees who have social rights, such as pensions.It is too easily used – including by the Jerusalem Municipality for the last two decades.
For years, workers’ associations have tried to reduce – or end – this situation, with poor results. Until last week, that is, when an Ariel auxiliary company signed an agreement with the municipality and the Histadrut to give 300 workers in welfare and education teams the status of municipality employees with full rights. 
For some of those who have been employed for 20 years or more with second-rate rights, this is good news. The question is whether this is a one-time step or a new era for the Jerusalem Municipality. 
O Jerusalem
Hitorerut appealed to the High Court last week against Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Communications Minister Ayoub Kara for not implementing a government decision to bring governmental offices back to the city. Moreover, some departments are planning to move out of the capital. The struggle to keep government workplaces inside the city was launched years ago by City Council member Ofer Berkovitch. 
In 2007, the government, in a gesture recognizing 40 years since reunification, adopted a decision requiring all governmental offices to operate from Jerusalem by 2015. The deadline was extended to  May 2019. Now it is almost April, and there is no sign that any of these offices will comply. Moreover, the Israel Post Office, an auxiliary of the Communications Ministry, announced its decision to move out of Jerusalem and relocate to Modi’in. 
This, according to Berkovitch, means that thousands of employees and their families will have to choose between losing their jobs or moving out of the city. During the mayoral campaign, all  of the candidates pledged to their utmost to prevent this from happening, but the relocation is still scheduled for May 2019. Accordingly, Berkovitch appealed to the High Court to prevent the move, and force the government to implement its own decision. Berkovitch pointed out that such relocations cost the city about NIS 100 million, besides the other losses – in quality jobs, young families leaving the city, etc.
Inside the landscape
Some 5,250 housing units, to be built in two sections and separated by a large road, are planned for the slopes of Moshav Ora, better known as the “White Ridge” project. Details of the controversial project have been released by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Commission. Construction will include a portion with relatively low buildings, up to eight stories, plus higher structures of eight to 12 stories at the top of the ridge. The project will include two promenades. The higher level will be accessible through two large lifts, in addition to stairs in the cliffside rocks. 
The shadows are coming 
The municipality is resuming a project conceived and launched five years ago by then-deputy mayor Rachel Azaria, to construct devices that will shade all the playgrounds in the city. This year, the project will include 40 new shading projects, in addition to the 23 sites that have already been shaded. The cost of the project is NIS 3.4 million, and will include playgrounds Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Kiryat Yovel, Ramat Sharett, Holyland, Har Nof and Kiryat Moshe. 
A new battlefield
Two separate advertising campaigns for use on the Jerusalem Light Rail were rejected this week. In one case, CityPass, the consortium that runs the Light Rail, rejected an ad campaign from the Reform and the Conservative movements, together with the “Free Israel” movement, to promote civil marriages in Israel. The campaign, under the title “Equal love, equal marriage” was rejected on the grounds that it would be perceived as a provocation against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) society. 
The ads, with significant financial backing from Jewish Federations in the US and Canada, support the agenda of these movements to enable civil marriages alongside the religious marriages sanctioned and performed under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate. One reason behind the refusal of CityPass to allow the ads in rail cars and at stops is the fear of provoking vandalism on ads that feature pictures of women. 
Meanwhile, the Blue and White Party has accused Mayor Moshe Lion of censoring a campaign it planned to run across the city. The ads featured a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing between Otzma Yehudit Party candidates on the one side (including Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, banned from running by the High Court on Sunday), while candidate Benny Gantz stands on the other.
This campaign was disallowed by the municipality, to which the Blue and White responded by accusing the mayor of acting as a supporter of Netanyahu.
Don’t touch the church.
A project by the Jerusalem Development Authority to connect Mount Scopus with the Mount of Olives by way of a promenade is raising apprehension among local churches, whose leaders have sent an urgent letter of protestation to the mayor. The last two segments of the promenade will pass through plots that belong to churches here and there is concern that the project will require land expropriation.
There is also fear of harm to the religious character of the site, as thousands of tourists will walk along the new promenade. In a letter to Mayor Lion, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem called the project a blatant offense against the Catholic Church, which represents millions of Christians worldwide.