Elkin: 'High House Prices Will Turn Jerusalem Into Arab City'
At a meeting promoting Moshe Lion's candidacy for the position of Jerusalem Mayor, Deputy Foreign Minister MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) said the time had come to solve the issue of high housing prices in Jerusalem, which he argued was causing Jewish residents to leave the city.
Elkin was taking part in a Saturday night meeting in the neighborhood of Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem, calling on voters to support Moshe Lion's candidacy in forthcoming mayoral elections.
"In the last few years, the Jewish population has grown in Jerusalem at a greater rate than the Arab rate, but the percentage of Jews in the city has dropped because so many are leaving the city. The reason for this,” he explained, “is the high housing prices and the lack of places to work. If we don't solve these problems, Jerusalem will not remain Jewish,” Elkin said.
Elkin was echoing remarks made earlier this month by Housing Minister, MK Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) who decried a freeze on building in the capital he said had been imposed by international pressure. He said there had been no new building authorized in Jerusalem for two years, for which Ariel said “my boss” prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was to blame.
At the event Saturday night, Moshe Lion said the housing issue would be his first priority if elected. “The most important thing for Jerusalem residents is that they receive help with costly municipality payments, and that they received in return the same service that residents in the center of the country received,” he said.
MK Avigdor Lieberman (Likud Beyteinu) Head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also spoke at the meeting to support Lion's candidacy. He said he had known Lion professionally for over 20 years, and paid tribute to his political acumen in the Likud party, crediting him with helping to reverse poor election results in the 1993 national elections and engineer a return to power in 1996.
Moshe Lion is hoping to unseat current Mayor Nir Barkat who is running for a second term in the city's October 22 municipal elections.
A recent poll placed Barkat ahead of Lion. However, Lion could win the majority of the city's hareidi votes.
Leading Ashkenazic and Sephardic hareidi rabbis have endorsed Lion, while hassidic newspapers have asked the city's large hassidic community to follow local community rabbis – leaving the possibility that Lion could also receive many hassidic votes.