Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat wrote a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today, after months of dialogue with the Ministry of Finance about strengthening Jerusalem reached a dead end.
Barkat urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to immediately and personally get involved in the situation, warning: "The end has come for public words and warnings about the importance and status of Jerusalem. It is time for action. Continuing to ignore Jerusalem's needs will be a victory for terror."
The mayor noted that "this year, once again, we have reached a situation in which the capital of Israel is forced to struggle against the Finance Ministry in order to receive the reasonable budget that it deserves. The Finance Ministry has refrained from supporting and strengthening Jerusalem and grants it only the most minimal budget. Strengthening the city is not only the concern and desire of its residents, it is the most important national goal. I would expect the Finance Ministry to support and aid in these important processes to strengthen the city, and without forcing us to repeatedly beg for Jerusalem's sake."
Barkat added, "It is most unfortunate and surprising that while Jerusalem confronts a great security challenge and is undergoing a wave of terror harming its economy and altering life in the city – the ability of business owners to support themselves, to draw visitors and, of course, to protect and ensure the quality of life of all of its residents. Let us not endanger the continued growth, rapid development, and historical changes that we have begun. The message must be loud and clear; precisely during these hard times, the government must come together and decisively increase its support for Jerusalem."
He cited three specific ways to help Jerusalem:
- Continuing to reduce the gaps between Jerusalem and the [other members of the] Forum of the 15 strongest cities by providing an additional 400 million shekels ($103 million US) in the 2016 budget.
- Approving an aid package to Jerusalem businesses that have been harmed by the wave of terror since Operation Protective Edge.
- Implementing the government's decision from Jerusalem Day, known as "Jerusalem 2000," including a five-year-plan to develop the city's economy.