This week in Jerusalem: Cable car is on

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 CABLE CAR project: Appears to be on (Illustrative). (photo credit: Hanna Balan/Unsplash)
CABLE CAR project: Appears to be on (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Hanna Balan/Unsplash)

Cable car is on

On Sunday, May 15, the High Court of Justice rejected the last four objections to the Old City cable-car project, whose planned route goes from the First Train Station to Dung Gate. Judge Yosef Elron noted that the heart of the petitions spoke of the plan’s “incompatibility” with the Old City environment and the scenic damage it would cause, and ruled that there was no place for judicial intervention in economic considerations and landscape and environmental concerns for the well-being of the residents living in the area, including halachic considerations (part of the route is directly above a Karaite graveyard, which would also make travel for kohanim prohibited). Elron emphasized that the decision between the differing planning perspectives and the various social ideologies is to be left to the planning bodies to determine. He also said that due to forecasts for an increase in the number of visitors to the Old City, and given the clear need to improve tourism infrastructure, the project’s ability to transport a large amount of visitors in a short period of time during peak hours had to be taken into account.

Dangerous sites

After a stubborn struggle ,the Hitorerut movement, the only opposition at city council, obtained the municipality’s list of dangerous buildings. The last year has seen a few alarming cases, like the urgent evacuation of a building in Baka, two earthquakes and many balconies built during the height of the pandemic (during which there was low to non-existent supervision). Despite that, complained council member Ofer Berkovitch, Safra Square refused to disclose the data. Now following a freedom of information request, the disturbing figures have been made public: there are 544 such buildings, while only about a fifth of them are in legal proceedings. A list of 115 dangerous buildings under the care of the Municipality Legal Department was provided, but lawsuits against them haven’t started. The neighborhoods with the most sites that need demolition or renovation are, excluding the city center, Geula, Nahlaot, the Old City, Baka-Talpiot, Makor Baruch and Rehavia. The opposition says this indicates the lack of governance in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods due to the structure of the municipal coalition, with the sector having a huge number of representatives in city council and thus a great ability to exert pressure.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Keep the Dolphin open

Pisgat Ze’ev residents wrote an angry letter to Mayor Moshe Lion following the municipality’s intention to close a secular preschool. “We, the parents of the children in the kindergarten, would like to express our displeasure, bewilderment and disappointment at the threat to close our beloved kindergarten.” The parents say there has been a significant rise in haredi residents moving into their neighborhood, so the decision to close the kindergarten due to a lack of registrants will encourage more secular people to leave the area, and in turn lead to the closure of more secular institutions. The parents added that it is wrong to close a kindergarten simply due to a lack of eight registrants. Hitorerut made the decision to support the parents’ further steps and to prevent the closure of the Dolphin kindergarten. 

Parlez-vous Français?

MK Yosef Taieb (Shas), a representative of French immigrants at the Knesset, will host members of CRIF, the umbrella organization for French Jews, at a Shas faction meeting in the Knesset this week. There have been about 40,000 new immigrants from France in the last three years, with a rise of 55% in 2021, compared to 2020. Jerusalem is the top city in Israel preferred by French immigrants.

Twenty years of pride

The 20th March for Pride and Tolerance will take place on Thursday, June 2, and will end with a performance in Independence Park. Among the artists who will perform are Rona Kenan, actress Ania Bukstein and rapper Echo. Uri Banki, the father of Shira Banki, who was stabbed to death in the 2017 parade, will also participate. Ministers Meirav Cohen, Merav Michaeli and Nitzan Horowitz, along with several MKs, are also planning on participating. The parade, produced as it is every year by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, will open Pride Month events in Israel, marking the 20th anniversary of the first pride parade in the city, held in 2002. The Open House announced that, so far, MKs Naama Lazimi, Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin, Moshe Tur-Paz, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Eitan Ginzburg and Yorai Lahav Hertzanu have promised to speak at the event. 

Urban renewal

The Local Planning and Construction Committee has approved for deposit at the District Committee a plan for urban renewal in four existing buildings on Tchernichovsky Street in the Givat Havradim-Rassco neighborhood. The plan includes the demolition of three existing residential buildings at 52, 55 and 54 Tchernichovsky Street, which contain 36 housing units, and the construction of three new residential buildings in their place, one an eight-story residential building that will contain 36 housing units and two additional residential buildings, each of which will contain 44 housing units and will include 10 floors. The new plan will provide a total of 124 housing units. The plan also includes facilities for the benefit of public needs, amounting to 500 sq.m., which will include public spaces and gardens. This plan has been enabled through the master plan for this neighborhood, which was recently approved by the district committee.

Stay safe

As part of the municipal project “Safe at Home,” the 10,000th installation of an aid kit to prevent falls and accidents was carried out recently in the home of a veteran Jerusalemite and Holocaust survivor couple. The project was launched two years ago by the Social Services Administration at Safra Square. In the program, municipal staff members visit the homes of citizens aged 70 and over, have a conversation with them and offer them social services (including classes and activities in their area). The main points of the program are training and helping to prevent falls and accidents of elderly people in their homes .

Innovation in the east

The municipality, the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority have announced the establishment of a center for technological innovation for the east side of the city, as part of the city’s administration’s larger plan. The new center’s goal is to encourage those living in the east of the city to join the leading locomotive of the economy – the hi-tech industry. An approximately 1,500 sq.m. area has been leased on Salah a-Din Street for the center, which is expected to employ Jerusalemites who have graduated from academic institutions in Israel and abroad. 

The cost of establishing and operating the center for a period of five years is estimated at NIS 20 million, and is part of the public sector’s investment of hundreds of millions of shekels in hi-tech in Jerusalem in the last decade. The results of this investment can be seen throughout the city, both in the number of employees, which jumped from 10,000 to 20,000, and in the number of companies in the field of hi-tech, which has risen from 200 to more than 600. 

One of the first companies to open offices there is the large technology company Ness Technologies. The firm is expected to employ workers from a database of suitable potential employees, as well as skilled employees who will undergo on-site training tailored to the company. This is the first in a series of high-budgeted projects planned for the city, with special emphasis on the east side, promoted for the past five years by the government through the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry. The first five-year budget, ending next year, stood at NIS 2.4 billion, and the next five years will stand at NIS 4.4b., to be officially announced on Jerusalem Day next week. 

United award

Unity Day, born as an apolitical social initiative on behalf of the Yifrah, Shaer and Fraenkel families, whose sons were abducted and murdered by terrorists on June 12, 2014, and former mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, will be celebrated for the eighth year in a row. The purpose of the award is to honor and support those engaged in the work of unity, and to encourage further initiatives to connect between the various shades of society and the Diaspora. 

In the national category, the winner in this category is the “Piyut and Nigun Communities” (Kehilot Sharot) organization, which works to expose, present and teach the variety of liturgical traditions to diverse audiences together: women, men, secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox and traditional, members of various ethnic groups, young and old. The ceremony will take place on May 31 at the President’s Residence in the presence of President Yitzhak Herzog.