Lion presents four-point plan to improve capital to Anglo residents

Mayoral hopeful Moshe Lion offers Jerusalem residents his solutions for sanitation, education, housing.

Moshe Lion 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Moshe Lion campaign)
Moshe Lion 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Moshe Lion campaign)
Speaking in fluent English, Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Lion presented a fourpoint plan to improve the city and answered questions from Anglo Jerusalem residents at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center in the capital Sunday night.
The lecture was the first in a two-part series – and the first public address by Lion in English – which will feature Mayor Nir Barkat at the same venue Wednesday evening.
Lion focused on four core issues: sanitation, construction, education and transportation.
“Unfortunately, the city is full of garbage,” he said.
“Whether you’re walking down the streets or near your homes, it’s a big problem, and I’m going to deal with it.”
To improve sanitation throughout the capital, Lion said he would hire 300 additional garbage collectors by significantly increasing the municipality’s current annual budget.
With respect to real estate costs and construction, Lion noted Jerusalem’s unrealistically prohibitive housing market and the need to mitigate current bureaucratic procedures hindering builders from constructing new homes expeditiously.
“The prices of apartments here have increased beyond housing prices in Tel Aviv,” he said. “Prices have grown 70 percent. Why? Because we are building in Jerusalem – but we have to make the city more affordable.”
Citing current building plans that include thousands of new apartments in the capital, Lion proposed ideas to efficiently expedite the process, including increasing the size of buildings to house more families and marginalizing the municipality’s bureaucratic red tape.
“I will lower the bureaucracy in the municipality to help builders obtain construction permits far more quickly,” he said. “This is very important for Jerusalem.”
In terms of education, Lion said it was unacceptable that Jerusalem’s schools are ranked 144 out of 152 cities in the nation. He emphasized the need to build hundreds of more classrooms and hire at least 2,000 more full-time teachers.
“The first problem is that in the last five years there were about 220 classrooms built in Jerusalem, and we need a minimum of 500,” he said.
“The second problem is we have 2,000 temporary teachers, who the municipality fires after nine months because they cannot be given permanent placement,” Lion continued.
“When I become mayor I will give the 2,000 teachers permanent positions, which I believe will help improve education.”
Addressing the high dropout rates in Jerusalem, Lion said he would also increase the municipality’s education budget to help stymie the problem.
“I must increase the education budget to accomplish all these goals,” he said. “So, instead of holding expensive Formula 1 events in the city, I will use that money to strengthen the education system.”
In terms of transportation, Lion said he plans to lower congestion by adding more direct bus lines.
“It’s a big problem with the buses because the city does not have enough direct lines from neighborhood to neighborhood,” he said. “I will change that.”
Responding to a question regarding illegal home construction in east Jerusalem, Lion said his zero-tolerance stance on the issue is a key difference between him and Barkat.
“This is exactly the difference between me and Barkat,” he said. “I represent the right wing in Israel and the public has to know the truth.”
Asked if he had a formal agreement with the city’s sought-after haredi electorate, Lion dismissed the notion that any such arrangement exists.
“I don’t have any agreement with the haredim – if I did, I would tell the public,” he said.
“The fact is that they support me, but we don’t have any agreement.”
Lion added that he hopes to use his term as mayor to unite bickering factions within the city’s splintered religious sector.
“My specialty is to unite the religious population – to talk to them about how to live together with other populations in Israel,” he said.
To curtail the capital’s ongoing exodus of young residents following graduation from high school and college, Lion said he would create thousands of new jobs in the hitech and tourism sectors.
“Barkat said he would create 100,000 jobs, and it’s a joke,” he said. “But I think you can create a lot of jobs through hitech and creating more hotels to encourage tourism.”
Challenged by one attendee about moving to Jerusalem only shortly before running for mayor, Lion said his love and passion for the city dates back many years as a civil servant and businessman working full time in the capital.
“I love Jerusalem very much,” he said. “In the last 15 years I have worked a lot here, and I think when I become mayor you’ll see just how much I love this city,” he said.
Barkat is scheduled to speak at the same location Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.