(It's about time! Psalm 122:6 Mid)
The ministerial committee for legislation approved a bill that will grant special benefits to the capital, including incentives for construction in western, eastern and northern Jerusalem.
The committee’s approval means the bill will have official government support when it comes up for its Knesset votes. Some 45 MKs are signed on the proposal, which should have no trouble passing in the Knesset.
The bill calls for an annual government grant to Jerusalem, as well as an upgrade of its status for the encouragement of investments in education, housing, and employment. Jerusalem will now enjoy the highest-priority classification in the country, with the goal of stopping the recent exodus of young couples – and strengthening the city’s Israeli status.
The upgrade in Jerusalem's city status was initiated by MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who said, “The true message given by the passage of this bill is the government’s change of direction regarding Jerusalem, and a signal that construction in the city will soon be unfrozen.”
The bill, which is a set of changes and emendations to the existing Jerusalem Law, specifically encourages the construction of “affordable housing complexes,” to be accomplished by simplifying the planning and approval processes. Many of the city’s reserves for future housing lie in neighborhoods such as Pisgat Ze’ev, Gilo, Ramot, N’vei Yaakov and Har Homa – which were liberated in the Six Day War in 1967 – and therefore some international condemnation of the bill is expected.
Jerusalem, Complete and United
Though visitors to the city can detect no difference between the built-up neighborhoods that were always part of Jerusalem and those that joined 43 years ago, many in the international community still regard the latter as “settlements.” However, Israel’s "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel,” passed in 1980, begins with these words: ”Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
Mayor Nir Barkat, who worked hard for the bill’s passage, thanked the ministerial committee for legislation, and said, “The Knesset’s and government’s formal recognition of the need to strengthen Jerusalem is critical for the city’s future and continued growth. This decision will help Jerusalem to continue to be attractive to the young, to tourists, and to investors.”
“This is a first step towards returning Jerusalem to the map of Israel,” MK Ariel said, “in terms of young couples and small and medium businesses. It will encourage housing starts in the capital; until now the policy has been to freeze and neglect Jerusalem, and this will hopefully signal a turnaround and new construction in the capital.”
Communications Minister Moshe Kachlon of the Likud said, “Whoever among the Palestinians and the world expects the present Government of Israel to recognize foreign claims of sovereignty in our capital – is mistaken and misleading.”
Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua