This week in Jerusalem: Lonely soldiers

A roundup of events.

An IDF soldier (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An IDF soldier
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Lonely soldiers
Lone soldiers living in Jerusalem have just a few – if any – housing solutions for their vacation days during their service. Some of them simply rent apartments – and to reduce the cost (the IDF gives some support but it doesn’t always cover all the expenses) they often share with other soldiers. The municipality offers a significant reduction in arnona (property tax) for these soldiers but it is based on the size of the apartment, and that’s how bureaucracy can transform a good intention into a frustration. Since most lone soldiers prefer to share, these apartments are obviously larger than the size requested for the reduction – and that’s how the soldiers lose this opportunity and end up paying the full amount of tax.
For the moment, in the framework of the election campaign, only two people have decided to deal with this issue – Arieh King (United Jerusalem), who is trying to find solutions at the arnona administration, and candidate Avi Salman, who promised he would promote a general solution if elected.
Problematic emergency
Last month, the festive inauguration of the new Terem emergency medical center took place, with no fewer than three mayoral candidates (Moshe Lion, Ze’ev Elkin and Yossi Daitch) and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman. The new emergency room, located at the corner of Jaffa Road and Sarei Yisrael Street, near Haturim light rail station, replaces the branch in Romema and has plenty of parking and easy access.
However, since it is located inside the new shopping center and luxurious City Court housing complex, it appears that things are not going smoothly between the Terem's patients Terem the neighbors. Right from the beginning, the guards on duty at the City Court entrance were given clear orders not to allow any patient to enter through the complex. As a result, patients arrived through the lobby of the housing project, causing the residents to decide to block the passage. Last week, things reached boiling point and police got involved in separating the parties. The new Terem clinic, which long awaited by patients, has been welcomed by all across the city, as it is intended to give rapid and professional answers to patients, with a wide range of specialists in many fields of medicine.
Enough is enough
City council member Yohanan Weitzman (United Torah Judaism) is causing Mayor Nir Barkat to lose his temper these days. Weitzman, who led the opposition of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) representatives to further use of the First Station, on the ground that it hasn’t been done in accordance with the rules, is now trying to stop the Warburg project in Kiryat Hayovel, planned for cultural and entertainment programs for the neighborhood's secular population. Last week, the municipality issued a call for architects to propose a plan for the Warburg project, and that was the occasion for Weitzman to open up a bureaucratic procedure, designed to block the project for many months, if not years.
Since Barkat considers the Warburg project as a personal pledge (to balance the impact of approving haredi kindergartens to open in a secular Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood), his reaction to Weitzman’s initiative was quick and severe. At the last council meeting, Barkat hinted that the budgets already approved for the summer events for the haredi sector might be halted for a while, and at least one of his assistants said that the mayor might also decide enough is enough, and simply fire the city council members, who are part of his coalition but nevertheless act against him.