Zionist Council head blasts Lupolianski for failed leadership

Ben-Atar: Situation of decline in J'lem on level not seen since liberation of city after Six Day War.

uri lupolianski 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
uri lupolianski 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The head of the Zionist Council in Israel blasted Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski on Thursday for failed leadership over the last five years, calling conditions in the capital the worst since the reunification of the city 41 years ago. "The situation of decline in Jerusalem is on level not seen since the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six Day War," said Moshe Ben-Atar, director-general of the Zionist Council in Israel, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Ben-Atar cited the continuing migration of thousands of Jewish residents from Jerusalem each year - a two-decade trend that has continued unabated during Lupolianski's tenure - and the accompanying brain drain. "We don't have an activist city policy with the government in dealing with these issues," he said. Some 300,000 Jews have left the city in the past 20 years, primarily in search of inexpensive housing and better job opportunities. Nearly half of those leaving the capital were between the ages of 25 and 34. Earlier this week, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it was establishing a team to plan cheap housing for university students and young residents, in an effort to stem the Jewish migration. The long-awaited move came three months before the municipal election and hours ahead of a demonstration by students outside city hall over the lack of affordable housing in the city. Ben-Atar noted that most pupils in the city no longer studied in Zionist schools. "As a Jerusalem native, I am very fearful for the future of the city," he said. Lupolianski spokesman Gidi Schmerling dismissed the criticism as politically-motivated. "We are talking about a political person who has tried for a long time to butt heads with the mayor," Schmerling said in a statement. "For example, because the mayor is haredi, he [Ben-Atar] wanted to invite [him] to a gathering which was taking place just minutes before the start of Shabbat. It is regretful that Ben-Atar is using his position for political purposes."