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Jerusalem Mayor Slams Delay in Moving Gov't Offices to Capital

Nir Barkat accuses the Prime Minister of caving in to bureaucrats, 'betraying Jerusalem' by delaying move until 2018.
By Yaakov Levi
First Publish: 5/18/2014, 5:46 PM

Nir Barkat, October 2013 (file)
Nir Barkat, October 2013 (file)
Flash90

The government on Sunday morning decided to postpone deciding on moving all government offices to Jerusalem – a mistake, as far as Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is concerned. “This damages our standing in Jerusalem, and is the opposite of what we would hope for. It damages our efforts to strengthen our presence in the city and to develop it economically,” said Barkat.

At issue is a seven-year old decision by the government to move the headquarters of all national offices to Jerusalem. Many of these headquarters are now located in the Tel Aviv area, and the plan was to move their main activities to Jerusalem in order to increase the Israeli presence in the city. The plan was to have been completed by 2015. The government decided Sunday to move the final date to 2018.

While some offices have been moved to Jerusalem over the years, others have not, with many remaining in place because the move is opposed by workers, who do not want to commute from their homes in the coastal strip area of Israel. Several have threatened to go on strike if their offices are moved.

But the national interest - and the interest of Jerusalem – must trump those personal concerns, said Barkat. “We cannot tolerate a situation where the government on the one hand will talk about the importance of Jerusalem, and on the other hand will refuse to provide a personal example of this, postponing the decision over and over and denying Jerusalem thousands of jobs.”

Also slamming the decision was Ofer Berkovitch, head of the “Hitorrerut” movement in the city. “Instead of putting the clerks who are preventing the move from happening in their place and exercising leadership, he fearfully submits to their demands and postpones the decision for another three years. It is no coincidence that Sunday's decision was taken a week before Jerusalem Unification Day, with the government's betrayal of the city now clear,” he said.