Elkin unveils platform for Jerusalem

“I don’t believe in miracles,” said Elkin, who is religiously observant. “I don’t believe the municipal departments will suddenly do in three months what until now took them three years."

Zeev Elkin
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin vowed on Monday to initiate a plan for the construction of 100,000 homes in Jerusalem by 2040, at a press conference in which he unveiled the platform for his mayoral campaign.
The press conference was a response to criticism that the October 30 municipal elections have been too focused on negative campaigning and not enough on substance. Elkin explained his platform on seven key issues for a full hour.
“We see the plan as very much alive,” Elkin said. “It’s the product of the work of many experts. The public can see it online and make their recommendations, because the plan is the basis for changes that can still be made. We want this plan to be the answer to residents of all sectors who ask themselves why they still live here.”
According to the plan, 20,000 housing units would be built in new neighborhoods by 2025 and 60,000 total by 2040. Another 10,000 would be built as part of urban renewal inside existing neighborhoods by 2025 and 40,000 total by 2040, for a grand total of 100,000 new housing units.
“I don’t believe in miracles,” said Elkin, who is religiously observant. “I don’t believe the municipal departments will suddenly do in three months what until now took them three years. I do believe in removing unnecessary stages in the process of bureaucracy, because unnecessary bureaucracy is causing too much suffering.”
While Elkin praised his predecessor, outgoing Mayor Nir Barkat, he said that much more must be done immediately to develop the city economically and ensure that there will be enough employment opportunities.
“Jerusalem is on the verge of bankruptcy due to its debts,” he warned. “The main reason is that the city’s expenses are not being made up for by its income.”
Elkin’s plan calls for identifying start-ups in the city that will become large companies and giving them incentives to stay in Jerusalem. He said the city must do more to attract large companies to Jerusalem that could benefit from the city’s academic institutions.
He said that due to the presence of Hebrew University and the Hadassah medical centers, Jerusalem had great potential to become a hub for bio-technology.
Elkin, who has good ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would use his connections in the national government to ensure that the economic development of Jerusalem’s haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Arab sectors would be a national priority.
He said the city’s cleanliness required an urgent reform, because too many municipal bodies were in charge of the issue. He said that only after the residents see that the city is serious about making Jerusalem cleaner can there be better education and enforcement that would be as much a priority as distributing parking tickets.
On education, Elkin wants schools in Arabic neighborhoods to be encouraged to adopt the Israeli curriculum.
Regarding transportation, he said there must be more entrances to the city and its neighborhoods. He favors building a tunnel under the German Colony’s main thoroughfare Emek Refaim for a rail line, rather than having the train run on the street.
Elkin pointed out that on average in cities the size of Jerusalem in developed countries, 40% of the population uses public transportation, while only 24% do so in Jerusalem.
“We need to be encouraging more people to use public transportation and to make our public transportation more effective,” he said.
The final section of the platform is about making young families feel better served, which was also a priority for Barkat during his decade in office.
“Jerusalem has been through a lot over the past 10 years,” Elkin said. “Many changes were made that must continue. There was hope for development and maintaining secular populations, which must continue, and I will make sure that it does.”