Uri Ariel: 'This is the beginning of a new era in J'lem'

New bill gives national priority to capital in housing, employment, and education; MK says "we expect end to illegal building freeze."

Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation gave government support for a bill on Sunday that would give national priority to Jerusalem in housing, employment and education, similar to the priority given to periphery towns.
The legislation, sponsored by MK Uri Ariel (National Union), is slated for a first reading in the Knesset soon. On Sunday, Ariel welcomed the committee’s decision, saying, “This is the beginning of a new era in Jerusalem and a sign of things to come: We expect an end to the [unofficial] illegal building freeze in the capital.”
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The bill would award building priority to various neighborhoods in Jerusalem, including in the city’s east, and could lead to friction with the United States and Europe.
The effect the proposed legislation would have on the capital’s residents is not yet clear, but they would be expected to receive several benefits.
The bill was backed by the entire Legislative Committee, but Labor Ministers Shalom Simhon and Isaac Herzog, along with Likud colleagues Gideon Sa’ar and Bennie Begin – all of whom support the bill – asked to postpone the vote for three weeks. Their intention was to incorporate into the legislation further elements such as ones pertaining to welfare benefits. The request, however, was not granted.
Explanatory notes for the bill state that the government will promote the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants through the allocation of special funds, and that Jerusalem will be given special priority regarding economic and development issues.
Although the bill does not mention building beyond the Green Line, it is expected the legislation will also cover Jewish neighborhoods east of the Green Line.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also applauded the Ministerial Committee’s decision, saying, “The formal recognition by the Knesset and the government regarding the need to strengthen Jerusalem is critical for the city’s future and for the continuation of the positive momentum in it.
“The decision will help to advance the transformation of Jerusalem as an attractive place for young people, tourists and investors,” he said.