Young residents continue to flee J'lem

MK Katz: Merge communities to regional council and prevent demographic tip.

yisrael katz 298 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yisrael katz 298 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Thousands of young Israelis continue to leave Jerusalem each year in search of better jobs and more affordable housing, official figures released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics show. Some 17,300 people moved out of the capital last year, compared to 10,900 who came, in a continuation of a nearly three-decade-old trend that has seen hundreds of thousands leave the city. Nearly half of the residents who left Jerusalem last year were aged 20 to 34, according to the statistics, released ahead of Jerusalem Day, which gets underway Tuesday evening. The primary reasons cited by people who left in years past were a lack of good job and affordable housing in the capital. Most who left last year moved to Jerusalem suburbs or nearby cities, including 1,450 who moved to Ma'ale Adumim; 1,411 who moved to Beit Shemesh; 1,019 who moved to Modi'in and Maccabim; and 990 who moved to Modi'in Ilit. And 1,664 Jerusalem residents left for Tel Aviv last year. For the last several years, the number of Israelis leaving the capital has averaged 6,000 more than those arriving. Those moving to the city last year included nearly 2,500 new olim, who made up 13 percent of the immigrants to Israel in 2006. The new immigrants who chose to make Jerusalem their home last year included 794 Americans, 571 French, 349 from the CIS, and 211 Britons. The statistics reflect a growing trend of native English and French speakers moving to the city, and a decrease in the number of Russian speakers coming to the city, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Jerusalem remains Israel's largest city with nearly 740,000 residents - nearly two-thirds Jews (470,000), and one-third Arabs (240,000). The city also has nearly 15,000 Christian residents and about 9,000 people who are not identified by religion. A separate survey released last week showed that rate of growth for Jerusalem's Arab population over the last decade was more than double that for Jews. On Monday, Likud MK Yisrael Katz proposed a bill designed to preserve the capital's Jewish majority. The bill proposes to merge the communities around the capital into a "Jerusalem Regional Council," while maintaining their municipal independence. Katz said that under his bill, residents of Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev, Betar Ilit and Mevaseret Zion would be able to vote for both Jerusalem's mayor and their own municipal councils. Several coalition MKs support the legislation, Katz said. If it passed, he said, the Jewish majority would get a boost and there would be no "demographic revolution" in favor of the Arab population. Some 35% of city residents under age 14, while only 8% are over the age of 65, according to the survey. Nearly 77% of Jerusalemites own a TV, compared to a 91.5% average in the country's five biggest cities, while just over a third of capital residents have Internet at home, compared to nearly half of households in the five big cities, statistics attributed to the large haredi and Arab population in the city. At the same time, 87 percent of Jerusalem residents over the age of 20 said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives