GRAPEVINE: Diplomatic exodus?

A new quarter will be created in Jerusalem for the establishment of embassies that will relocate to the capital.

An almond tree blossoms in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An almond tree blossoms in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood
■ CONSTRUCTION MINISTER Yoav Galant says that he has instructed senior officials in his ministry to find a new quarter in Jerusalem for the establishment of embassies that will relocate to the capital.
There are close to 90 resident ambassadors in the country, though Israel has diplomatic relations with many more countries. But even moving 90 embassies and residences takes quite a lot of doing.
The overwhelming majority of diplomatic residences are located in Herzliya Pituah, Kfar Shmaryahu and Ramat Gan. The Korean residence is in Rishon Lezion, and the Polish residence is in Udim, and a handful of ambassadors have moved their residences from Herzliya Pituah to Tel Aviv. Most ambassadorial residences are rented, but a not an insignificant number have for decades been owned by foreign countries.
While Galant is thinking of areas such as Ein Kerem, he is not ruling out Mevaseret Zion and Neveh Ilan, which are not within the boundaries of Jerusalem.
Politically, this is actually a good idea, especially for countries that are members of the European Union, because it enables them to follow EU policy while simultaneously being close enough to Jerusalem to be part of the closely knit diplomatic community.
However, if Galant is looking for land in Jerusalem proper, there is a lot of vacant land between the Har Hotzvim Technology Park and Ramot.
The euphoria accompanying the moves of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and of other embassies that are following the US example has not yet taken into account how the diplomatic exodus from Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Kfar Shmaryahu and Herzliya Pituah will affect those cities.
If it’s a very gradual thing, it may not affect them at all. But if it’s a mass move, it could have dire economic consequences.
■ IN AN interview that he gave to Israel Hayom, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is moving out of local politics into the national arena, commented that he could have done well without the unnecessary Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, whose NIS 100 million annual budget could have been saved; but from the moment a minister was appointed, he accepted the situation and had a good relationship with Ze’ev Elkin, who is now weighing the possibility of running for mayor.
Some ministries are established as a matter of convenience, simply because a certain MK is considered worthy of being a minister, or because the prime minister owes a political debt to a particular MK, or because an MK who wasn’t appointed in the first round of negotiations has sufficient clout to make the prime minister’s life miserable, or because of the insistence of one or more of the government coalition partners. It will be a matter of interesting irony if Elkin does decide to run and wins, and the role of Jerusalem affairs minister is offered to Barkat, who, after all, would be the most qualified person in the Likud to hold the position. Would he then still think that it’s a superfluous ministry? ■ THE 192-year-old Bikur Cholim Hospital, which in 2012 was in danger of closure and which in December of that year became the City Center Campus of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, has undergone another name change and is now known as the Eduardo and Jovita Cojab Medical Center.
The philanthropic Mexican couple, who have donated generously to medical causes in Israel, came to Jerusalem last month to participate in the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the building in Jerusalem that will be the permanent headquarters for ZAKA search and rescue operations, and also came for the renaming ceremony of the hospital.
Among those attending the latter event were Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the president of the Council of Torah Sages; Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites; and, of course, Shaare Zedek director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy, who said that Shaare Zedek could not find a more appropriate way to honor the Cojabs than to attach their name to the capital’s only inner city hospital, which Shaare Zedek rescued from closure in the realization that such a facility must continue to exist in the heart of Jerusalem.
The hospital always had and continues to have an admirable record of births. Considering that it’s a hop, skip and a jump from ultra-Orthodox communities such as Mea She’arim and Geula, where families of nine or 10 children are common, and where women who go into labor on Shabbat or on Jewish holy days have been known to walk from their homes to the hospital, it is no small wonder that an average of 6,000 babies are born there each year.