Mayor Nir Barkat at protest
Mayor Nir Barkat at protestJerusalem municipality spokesperson

Hundreds of residents, merchants, city council members and municipality workers in Jerusalem protested Monday morning at the governmental compound in the capital, closing the entrance to the Knesset with dozens of garbage trucks.

The protesters were demonstrating against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), with the municipality arguing that unlike in previous years in which hundreds of millions of shekels were transferred to strengthen the capital, this year for the first time the Finance Minister is refusing to transfer the required budget of the city.

In order to maintain the management of Jerusalem and continue the trends of growth seen in the city, an immediate addition of 400 million shekels (around $103 million) is needed in its 2016 budget according to the municipality, in addition to 50 million shekels ($12.8 million) in aid for local businesses harmed by the recent wave of Arab terror.

"The Finance Minister's disengagement from Jerusalem and the harsh decrees that Kahlon is issuing on the city will critically harm the security of the city, education, welfare and cleaning (of the city) and is liable to push the city back many years," warned the municipality.

In terms of security in the terror beleaguered capital, the municipality noted that the security budget will be cut back, harming the ability to deploy security personnel, patrol cars, as well as checkpoints and surveillance points in the city. Likewise the budget for patrols in security institutions will be cut and hundreds of kindergartens will be left without security.

In education, programs in all schools will be cut, affecting public transportation allowances for students with financial needs, the extra month of classes during summer vacation in Jerusalem, supplementary classes for weaker students, programs to prevent dropout, and others.

As for welfare, the budget would severely cut back programs to help get people out of poverty, leaving 400 families in severe poverty and thousands of other families without the tools to improve their situation and integrate in the job market. Likewise programs for treatment of the elderly will be canceled, budgets for special needs residents will be diminished, and budgets for welfare institutions will be cut as will programs to provide meals for the needy.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who took part in the protest, said: "the Finance Minister needs to give explanations as to how it can be that since he entered his post he didn't find time to meet even once to discuss the aid to Jerusalem, and he firmly refuses even today to answer business owners who were seriously harmed by the security situation."

"Kahlon is trying to make this a personal war but the expectation of the Finance Minister to strengthen Jerusalem, particularly at this time, is not a personal matter. It is a national interest that all residents of the state expect from him," added Barkat.

"We call on Kahlon to stop disconnecting from Jerusalem and not to deal with small politics, but rather to announce wide support for Jerusalem, instead of holding the residents of the city and the merchants as captives. In this difficult period Jerusalem must be above all else."