This week in Jerusalem: Take a trek with Akim-Jerusalem

A weekly round-up of city affairs.

 TREKKING: EIN Gedi vista (Illustrative). (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
TREKKING: EIN Gedi vista (Illustrative).
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Take a trek with Akim-Jerusalem

Akim-Jerusalem’s 20th annual Trek will take place from November 30 to December 1 to promote full community inclusion for people with special needs. Friends and volunteers of the organization’s trekkers are invited to take part and support the project to advance a shared vision to enable people with special needs to achieve their full potential as contributing members of the community and Israeli society at large, says Akim-Jerusalem CEO Nir Levy.

For the last 20 years, Akim-Jerusalem trekkers have explored a different region of Israel, with the shared purpose of fundraising to meet the most vital needs of this special community. This year, the journey runs through Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, through breathtaking paths and challenging trails. Each trekker is requested to make a commitment to raise at least NIS 5,000. Last year, trekkers ranging from ages eight to 81 raised NIS 200,000. This year, the expectation is to raise even more.

Builders of Jerusalem

Jerusalem tops the ranking of cities in the sale of new apartments: 581 new apartments were sold in the city between June and August 2022, an increase of 11.7% compared to the previous three months. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem is the most sought-after city in the country for residential and investment purposes.

The increase in sales in Jerusalem goes against the general trend in the market during this period as well as in the last year, as the CBS data illustrates that in Jerusalem as new inventory of apartments is released to the market, it immediately translates into an increase in sales. However, that doesn’t mean that prices are decreased. Housing units in Jerusalem remain mostly unaffordable, a situation that does not fit mayor Moshe Lion’s vision to attract young couples and families to move to the city.

 Construction at the entrance of Jerusalem (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Construction at the entrance of Jerusalem (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Jerusalem Declaration on Climate

At an event held in Jerusalem ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference, religious leaders gathered and called to support joint action on climate change. Last Thursday, the Department of Religions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, held the first interfaith conference on the role of religious leadership in dealing with climate change. The purpose of the conference is to encourage and empower religious communities in Israel and around the world to moderate the climate changes caused by humans and to promote the use of renewable energy.

At the event, the religious leaders from all the religious communities represented in the city signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Climate, calling to act urgently in order to address the challenges of climate change. Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and CEO of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, said that “the climate crisis is a spiritual crisis; therefore, we need the world’s religious leaders to solve the problem.”

Face-lifting

The municipality, through the local planning and construction committee, approved the establishment of a new 10-story building in the Rav Kook Center. The project, which has been waiting for approval for many years, is located in the Rabbi Kook Center on Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Street in Kiryat Moshe, next to the light rail route.

It will include 18,500 square meters for the premises of the institution, and social, community and welfare. The plan includes the demolition of an existing building and the construction of a 10-story building in its place, and the addition of three floors to the existing building. The plan has been approved according to the decision of the District Planning Committee to approve tall buildings along the light rail axis.

Culture and food

What is the connection between the culture of consumption and food security? Precisely why will the reduction come from the abundance, and how much money is hidden in garbage cans? These issues will be discussed at the Civilized Discourse #2 meeting, featuring experts in the field of food waste and consumption culture. It will take place on Sunday, November 27, at the Muslala Terrace on the Clal building (97 Jaffa Street).

The event will link the importance of the food system, which is an existential necessity and sustains us, as the main cause of the climate crisis. Because of the complexity, in-depth thinking by academics, society and government is required in the face of the future challenges that we as a society face. The organizers promote thinking alongside new ideas for solutions to the food and climate crisis that already exists, while taking a broad and comprehensive look at environmental, economic and social aspects.

The event will be led by Liat Arbel, head of Urban Sustainability, The Natural Step Israel organization; Amit Mestachkin, consultant, lecturer and entrepreneur to reduce food waste; and Naomi Tzur, founder and chairwoman of the Israeli Forum for Urbanism and the Green Jerusalem Fund. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call Itai at 054-302-4350; or Sharon at  052-456-0136.

Al-Walaja surrounded

The Jerusalem Municipality’s Finance Committee approved a NIS 3 million budget for the relocation of the al-Walaja checkpoint situated on the bypass road between Jerusalem and the al-Walaja village. The new location is approximately 2 km. closer to al-Walaja. According to the Ir Amim organization, it will block residents’ access to some 1,200 acres of their agricultural lands and Ein Haniya, a spring that once served as the village’s social center.

The Finance Committee’s agenda cited that the checkpoint’s relocation is being carried out at the request of the Jerusalem Municipality, Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, and the Israel Police. However, adds Ir Amim, the checkpoint constitutes a military facility, so its location should be determined by the Israeli army. However, the army is not among the Israeli bodies requesting its relocation.

Smart Magen David Adom

In a special ceremony held at IDF Square last week, a smart Magen David Adom was inaugurated. The new stand is one of 30 new stands that were donated by Cross River founder and CEO Jill Gide, in cooperation with the Friends of Med Association for the Municipality of Jerusalem. They will be stationed throughout the capital in order to help save the lives of residents and tourists. The new positions will join the 66 MDA positions that are already operating in the city and saving lives in the public space.

The festive ceremony was attended by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion; Jill Gide, founder and CEO of Cross River; Uriel Goldberg, director of communications and external relations of Cross River; Uri Shaham, director of the Jerusalem region of MDA; Orli Ariel, CEO of the MDA Friends Association in Israel; and other dignitaries.

Money, money, money

The Elad organization received NIS 28 million from public funds for the development of Ben Hinnom Gorge in Jerusalem toward projects that expand Elad’s activities in the Old City Basin, near the village of Silwan, east of the Cinematheque in Jerusalem. Ownership of part of this plot of land is disputed, as according to the Palestinians it is owned by them.

In 2020, the Nature and Parks Authority (RTG) and Elad signed an agreement for a joint venture, and the Jerusalem Municipality issued landscaping orders, a tool that allows municipalities to take over a neglected area in the city in order to cultivate it, while the area remains in the hands of the private owners.

Of the NIS 28 m. received by the association, approximately NIS 20 m. was transferred to it for the construction of a rope bridge on the site. In addition, about NIS 2 m. was transferred to the association by the municipality for the development of the area, and another NIS 2 m. was transferred to it for similar reasons in a government decision from the last Jerusalem Day.

Fighting the level

The nature protection and public transportation organizations in Jerusalem are fighting the level separation at the Ora intersection and petitioned the district court on the matter earlier this week. In an administrative petition filed by the Society for the Protection of Nature and the organization 15 Minutes, in cooperation with the organization Saving the Jerusalem Mountains, against the National Planning and Construction Council, they demand the cancellation of the decision on the infrastructure changes for the transportation at the Ora intersection, the main concern of which is the level separation.

The main claim in this petition is that although it is a plan with far-reaching consequences for nature and the environment in the area, no environmental impact assessment was conducted for the plan, as required by law. Another claim of the petitioning organizations is that the planning process was riddled with fundamental flaws.

According to the petitioners, the National Council’s decision constitutes an unusual and problematic precedent, after the Council’s Appeals Sub-Committee unequivocally determined that it was necessary to prepare an environmental impact report and examine additional alternatives. However, the appeals board’s decision, as claimed in the petition, was overturned by the National Council, without an in-depth discussion of the consequences of the program. 

More on the matter to come soon. ❖