‘We will not allow residents to be harmed because of real estate deals’

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat speaks with residents about church-land negotiations.

Nir Barkat meets with “the Committee to save apartment leasers in Israel” (photo credit: COURTESY JERUSALEM MUNICIPALITY)
Nir Barkat meets with “the Committee to save apartment leasers in Israel”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat promised residents of the capital who might be affected by real-estate deals between the Greek Orthodox Church and private entrepreneurs that the municipality will stand alongside them and not let them be harmed.
In a meeting last Thursday with “The Committee to Save Apartment Leasers in Israel,” which represents some 900 residents from the neighborhoods of Rehavia, Talbiyeh and Nayot, Barkat said he was working consistently to prevent a situation in which the residents are damaged.
Residents at the meeting presented issues to Barkat which they face because of the deals and described their distress due to their surrounding uncertainties.
Barkat presented actions he has taken in the past year to solve the problem and which he promised to continue in the future.
“We will not allow a situation in which the residents are harmed because of real estate deals,” Barkat said.
“In the past year we have been restlessly working behind the scenes for good of the residents and we will keep working until we will find an appropriate solution to this painful issue,” he said.
During the 1950s, churches leased properties all over west Jerusalem to the Jewish National Fund, parts of which it sold to residents living there. Those leases will end in the next 20 to 50 years and the churches have reportedly sold parcels of the land to private entrepreneurs – deals that affect the residents and create an uncertain future.
It was reported that even now, before the lease periods have ended, thousands of residents are facing uncertainties over their mortgages and whether to make upgrades to properties, such as installing elevators in buildings.
Last month, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked formed a committee headed by Deputy Attorney- General Erez Kaminitz in order to look for solutions to the issue. Barkat praised the move and said he will cooperate with the committee and continue to look out for the interests of Jerusalem residents.
Recently, the Greek Orthodox Church complained about the municipality’s refusal to issue a specific document that certifies there are no outstanding debts on the property and which is required to complete real-estate transactions. The church petitioned the court to settle the case, but the municipality on two different occasions has asked to delay such a discussion.
The Jerusalem Municipality responded by saying that due to the complexity of the issue, it was acting in accordance with its authority and was examining the matter before issuing the document in question.
“The municipality has good contacts with the Greek Orthodox patriarch and it is certain the due to these contacts it could provide assistance to the residents and solve this matter,” it added in a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post.