The government has approved a 100 million shekel ($28 million US) plan to help Jerusalem's businesses recover from the recent wave of terror. The plan was submitted by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud).
The program includes efforts to develop the business sector, support the tourism industry, and strengthen Jerusalem's academic standing.
"Today we are strengthening Jerusalem's citizens, as well as its small- and medium-sized businesses," Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said. "During these difficult times we are telling them: 'we are all behind you.' Our eternal capital Jerusalem was and remains our top national priority. With this decision, we affirm that all of the funds that we are transferring will serve Jerusalem's citizens and will go towards the city's strongest needs."
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Elkin "praises the government's decision to accept the plan we put together to support Jerusalem's businesses. We are talking about a necessary and strategic step, particularly at this time, to strengthen the capital city's economy and security. I am happy that the government is translating its interests into practical actions and that it proves we are not content with mere declaration. The program will help businesses get back on their feet and return both domestic and foreign tourists to Jerusalem. I will continue acting in my role as the Jerusalem Affairs Minister to advance the city and its economic development."
Tourism Minister Levin also applauded the move.
"Particularly during these days we understand the special national importance of supporting tourism entering Israel as a whole, and Jerusalem in particular. We are acting to strengthen our capital and to preserve it as a leading tourist destination. The answer to terror is to strengthen Jerusalem, to enlarge its tourism infrastructure and to bring many more tourists to visit it. I am convinced that the program we approved today has the power to enhance the status of Jerusalem, and to increase the number of tourists and visitors."
The program's budget has been set to about 100 million shekels ($28 million US) over the next few months and will include the following steps:
- Developing Jerusalem's business sector – About 70 million shekels ($18 million US) will be given to the Joint Distribution Committee to strengthen small- and medium-sized businesses. In addition, 5 million shekels ($1.3 million US) will be designated for small business loans, and the Jewish Agency will receive more than 40 millions shekels ($10 million US) to give small businesses in Jerusalem loans under favorable conditions.
- Supporting the tourism industry in Jerusalem with 20 million shekels ($5.6 million US) for targeted marketing activities aimed at tourists and for strengthening internal tourism and cultural activities in the city.
- Strengthening Jerusalem's academic standing with the aim of increasing the number of people students in the city, with a budget of over 11 million shekels ($2.8 million US).
- Assistance payments for business owners, as agreed upon by the head of the Tax Authority. The assistance will include significant relaxations by the tax collection department, spreading out payments, and reduced enforcement.
Einav Bar, who holds the municipality's businesses portfolio, commented on the approval by saying, "I am pleased with the decision to give over 100 million shekels in economic support to Jerusalem's businesses in order to prevent their collapse, and I hope that this support will lead to a new growth for the city's businesses."