Senior Jerusalem Municipality officials quit

In a dramatic move, two senior Jerusalem Municipality officials have submitted their resignations over differences of opinion with the way the city is being run, city officials said Thursday. The resignations of the head of the city's licensing department, Micha Ben-Nun, and the city engineer Uri Sheetrit come just one week after the director-general of the city's sports department stepped down from his posting as well. Both the city engineer and the head of the city's licensing department had served in their post under former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert as well, and their departure was the talk of city hall on Thursday. The highly respected Ben-Nun, whose term of office had ended without being renewed, was at the forefront of the city's struggle to crack down harshly on illegal building -- both Jewish and Arab -- going on in the city, a policy which city officials said had aroused the ire of Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski. Indeed, the city's crackdown on illegal Jewish building in the city, especially in haredi neighborhoods, under Ben Nun's direction was often overshadowed by the city's politically sensitive demolition of illegally-built Arab homes in east Jerusalem but was in reality no less sensitive for Jerusalem's first haredi mayor among his constituents. Responding to a Post query about Ben-Nun's departure, Lupolianski spokesman Gidi Schmerling said Thursday that the city intended to dramatically cut down the amount of time needed to acquire building permits in the city as part of its customer-service plan. Earlier this year, the city engineer had caused a stir by promoting a plan to demolish as many as 88 illegal Arab buildings in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The plan, which sparked an international outcry and Arab warnings of violence, was subsequently quashed by the mayor who essentially over-ruled his own chief city engineer.