2007 in review: Spotlight Jerusalem

In Jerusalem looks back on 2007. Here are some of the capital's headline highlights of the past year.

old city 88 (photo credit: )
old city 88
(photo credit: )
•January 2: Legendary mayor Teddy Kollek (above) dies at 95. •February 6: An Interior Ministry committee rejects the Safdie Plan. •February 6: Islamic leaders call for an intifada over the planned construction of a new bridge leading through an archeological garden to the Mughrabi Gate. (above) Three days later, security forces storm the Temple Mount to disperse Muslims violently protesting the construction work. In July, the plan for the new bridge is canceled and a plan for a smaller version of the bridge is given preliminary approval by the municipality. In October, the new plan is transferred to the Interior Ministry planning committee for final approval. •April 12: The first section of the NIS 135-million Calatrava Bridge at the city's entrance goes up. •May 28: The two-level, luxury outdoor Mamilla Mall opens. •June 18: The Foreign Ministry reveals that negotiations with Moscow are under way for the possible return of two Russian Church properties in the capital, the St. Sergius Metochion currently being used by the Agriculture Ministry, and the Russian church mission building, which houses the Magistrate's Court. In November, Russian billionaires Arkadi Gaydamak and Roman Abramovich agree to fund a new Jerusalem courthouse to help resolve the dispute. •June: Some 100 people set up a tent camp in Gan Menora to demand that the government find solutions to their lack of housing. (below) In October, the demonstration finally ends after 15 of the families are given homes to move into and seven families are offered a rent subsidy. •July 25: Road 9, a 3.5-km. bypass road around the north side of the city, opens. •August: Disgruntled Hapoel Jerusalem fans form Hapoel Katamon, which begins with Liga Aleph in October. •August 15: Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum lays the cornerstone for the Satmar community's new housing project on the former site of the Edison Cinema. •August 29: Gaydamak is named the new owner of Bikur Holim Hospital after his $32 million bid is accepted. •September 12: The shmita year begins. (above) As a result, the municipality redirects the city budget for road repair to planting. •September 24: The municipality announces the construction of 1,900 units for the Arab sector as part of a new master plan for the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya. In December, the Local Planning Committee orders changes to the plan, ruling that some of the land projected for construction is not the village's to develop. •October 19-20: Houses From Within, Israel's largest architectural event, visits the capital. Some 100 structures around the city, including private homes, public and government buildings, synagogues and churches, are open to the public at no cost. • October 29: Two years after Theophilos III (above) is appointed as Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Patriarch, a ministerial committee recommends that the government recognize his election. In December, three days after the government approves his appointment, the High Court issues a temporary injunction in light of a petition against the decision from Theophilos's predecessor, Irineos I. Four days later, the High Court cancels the injunction. • November 4: City officials reveal that Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski (above) is taking English lessons from a private tutor. • November 8: Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch enforces a ruling banning beggars from the area. •November 12: Yossi Malach, 20, hurls a firecracker onto the basketball court during a game between Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Holon. A security guard nearly loses three of his fingers after picking up the explosive device. •November: Jerusalem's only alternative gender-orientation bar, Shushan Pub, closes. •November: The city comptroller's annual report reveals that construction of the Calatrava Bridge is costing more than three times its original budget. •November: The municipality begins a NIS 10 million renovation of the city's entrance. Annapolis advances: Jerusalem took center stage in the lead-up to the Annapolis summit: •September: Vice Premier Haim Ramon proposes to cede certain Arab neighborhoods on the periphery of Jerusalem as part of a future peace treaty. •October: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet for the first time to work on a joint declaration. •October: PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini says that any solution will require the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in all of east Jerusalem. •October: Jerusalem city council opposition leader Nir Barkat launches an international campaign titled "Jerusalem should be strengthened, not divided," against any future division of the city. •October: Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski says that ceding Arab sections of Jerusalem to the Palestinians as part of a final peace treaty would be "akin to disembowelment." •November 20: Natan Sharansky launches an open-ended public campaign titled "More than Anything Else, Jerusalem," against any division of Jerusalem. •November 21: Lupolianski presents the NIS 200 million "Marshall Plan" for east Jerusalem to improve its infrastructure and living conditions and keep the city united. •November 25: Former chief of staff Lt.-Gen (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon warns against an east Jerusalem pullout. •November 26: Thousands rally in Jerusalem against any concessions by Israel during the Annapolis conference. Jerusalem Day: May 16 marked 40 years since the capital was reunified in the Six Day War. Highlighting the special anniversary were traditional Jerusalem Day events, unique initiatives and a controversial international boycott. • Representatives of the European Union and the US do not participate in the Knesset ceremony marking the occasion. • Thousands flock to the Western Wall on marches through the Old City. Other attractions included a songs of Jerusalem concert with some of the country's best known singers and rock groups at Gan Sacher; an Independence Park Student Day extravaganza; a huge procession by the country's agricultural communities; and an outdoor movie marathon about the history and culture of the capital. • Hundreds of Ethiopians pay tribute to those who died en route to Israel at an official government ceremony at Mount Herzl. • An economic task force, headed by Russian business tycoon Lev Leviev, is launched to promote the capital as a business center and attract both local and foreign investment. Jerusalem by numbers Figures from various surveys and studies over the year offer a revealing look at trends in the city. POLITICS • A May 2007 poll finds that 48 percent of local residents would vote for Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski if a mayoral election were held at the time, compared to 17% for Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat, 15% for Russian-born billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak and 14% for former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy. • A similar poll taken in November 2007 sees those figures shift to 37% for Lupolianski, 31% for Barkat, 14% for Gaydamak and 8% for Levy. MAYORAL REVIEW • In a November 2007 poll, 58% of Jerusalemites say Lupolianski has done a bad or very bad job in dealing with city sanitation. • 56% say the mayor has fared badly or very badly in handling city poverty. • 68% say the mayor has done badly or very badly in dealing with transportation and traffic jams. • 47% say the mayor has done a bad or very bad job in improving the education system. • 43% say there have been good changes in the city during Lupolianski's term, compared to 38% who say there have been no changes and 16% who say that there have been bad changes. RESIDENT WOES • 28% of Jerusalemites polled in May 2007 list poverty as the city's greatest problem. • 23% cite dirt and neglect. • Tied for third are the education system and polarization between secular and haredi Jews, as well as between Jews and Arabs, at 15% each. POPULATION GROWTH • A May 2007 survey reported the city's population at 720,000, 66% Jews and 34% Arabs. • By 2020 those figures could shift to 60% Jews and 40% Arabs. • In the past 40 years, the city's population has increased by 170% from 300,000, representing a growth of 140% for its Jewish inhabitants and 257% for its Arab residents. JERUSALEM OF GOLD • A May 2007 poll found that 78% of Israelis do not want to live in Jerusalem. • 62% of Israelis have visited the Old City in the last year, while 21% said they visited in the last two and five years. • 62% say Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion strengthen Jerusalem. ALIYA • Some 17,300 people moved out of the capital in 2006, compared to 10,900 who came. • Nearly half of the residents who left were aged 20 to 34. • Of those who left, 1,450 moved to Ma'ale Adumim; 1,411 moved to Beit Shemesh; 1,019 moved to Modi'in and Maccabim; 990 moved to Modi'in Ilit; and 1,664 moved to Tel Aviv. • Nearly 2,500 new olim made Jerusalem their home last year. These included 794 Americans, 571 French, 349 from the CIS and 211 Britons. Archeological finds: • March 2007: First Temple wall is found in the City of David (below). • May 2007: King Herod's tomb is discovered at Herodian (above). • September 2007: Second Temple quarry is unearthed in Ramat Shlomo. • October 2007: First Temple remains are found on the Mount. • November 2007: A Roman street is uncovered in the Western Wall tunnels. • November 2007: Nehemiah's wall is uncovered outside the Old City. • December 2007: A Second Temple structure, thought to be Queen Helena's palace, is found near the Temple Mount.