This Week In Jerusalem

Peggy Cidor's round-up of city affairs.

nir barkat jaffa gate 311 (photo credit: AP)
nir barkat jaffa gate 311
(photo credit: AP)
Hidden agenda?
A spokesman for Mayor Nir Barkat confirmed on Monday that Jerusalem’s mayor had a private meeting with former US ambassador Martin Indyk. In his capacity as adviser to George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s emissary to the Middle East, Indyk heard from Barkat all the details regarding the King’s Garden (Gan Hamelech) project. Recently approved by the local planning and construction committee, the project has raised new tensions between the two countries.
It is not clear whether Barkat was using this opportunity to show an official member of the US administration the facts on the ground – namely not only the demolition of 22 houses but also the legalization of 66 houses already ruled for destruction by the court, and a vast program of rehabilitation and development of Silwan – or, as city council member Yair Gabai (Habayit Hayehudi) suspects, was seeking permission from the real boss, the one in Washington.
Considering the riots that wounded 10 security guards and border policemen and caused about the same number of casualties among Arab residents even before one house was demolished, the mayor probably had quite a lot to explain.
Chinks in his armor
Municipal legal adviser Yossi Havilio was recently awarded the title of Knight of Quality Government by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. The award may have been a much-needed comfort for the restless legal adviser, but it doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the tensions between Havilio and the mayor.
Last week, despite Havilio’s new public accolade, municipalitydirector-general Yair Ma’ayan sent him a harsh letter accusing him ofconcealing important information from the mayor. According to Ma’ayan,Havilio had to inform him immediately that the judge at the local courtruled that Beit Yehonatan should not be sealed until at least the endof this month.
Another accusation Ma’ayan aimed at Havilio was “inappropriate behaviorduring the meeting of the local commission to choose new attorneys forthe municipality’s legal department.” According to his closeassistants, Havilio rejected both accusations, but the atmospherebetween him and the mayor and his staff is becoming more and more toxic.
Rumors at Kikar Safra have it that the mayor has decided to fireHavilio, who thus far has managed to irritate two mayors and a longlist of city council members.
Sacred and profane
As of this week, the Bible Lands Museum will be open on Shabbat, forthe first time since it was established 18 years ago. The reason?“Angels and Demons: Jewish Magic through the Ages,” the currentexhibition that is attracting thousands of visitors. Considering thehigh demand, the management of the museum decided to add Saturdays tothe opening hours (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), including guided tours inEnglish and Hebrew.
The skinny on a new skin treatment
For those suffering from skin ailments and going to the Dead Sea fortherapeutic reasons, here is some good news. The Misgav Ladach Hospital– the first private medical center in the city – is offering skintreatment via a new device. The phototherapy ward, under the directionof Dr. Ephraim Sagi, offers a varied range of skin therapies, availableto health fund clients.