alalu - Olivier Fitoussi - June 28 2011
Pepe Alalu Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Three months after vehemently opposing a controversial proposal to let Jerusalem's mayor have another two deputies, up from the current six, Meretz yesterday approved the appointment of its municipal council member as deputy mayor number 8.

Yosef 'Pepe' Alalu had been one of Mayor Nir Barkat's deputies earlier in Barkat's term but resigned due to a political dispute.

Some Meretz members said yesterday that Alalu's reappointment was not connected to the so-called "job law," as Alalu had not been replaced after he resigned.

Another party member said Meretz must have been offered something "too good to pass up, even at the price of the public criticism."

Knesset members who had joined Meretz in fighting the "job law" blasted the left-wing party yesterday.

"Meretz folded shamefully. MKs Nitzan Horowitz and Haim Oron made fiery speeches in the Knesset explaining why it was wrong to appoint so many paid deputy mayors in Jerusalem, and three months later they sold out their ideology for jobs for party functionaries," one MK said.

Horowitz noted in his Knesset speech in March that each deputy mayor cost NIS 130,000 a month in taxpayers' money. "Jerusalem's municipality does not need eight salaried deputy mayors," he said.

Oron said, "The bill was conceived in sin and was intended to hand out jobs and solve political problems at the public's expense."

The law, passed in March, says only local authorities without deficits and with at least 200,000 residents may appoint an additional deputy mayor. Jerusalem, which already had six deputy mayors, was listed as being eligibile for two additional paid deputy mayors.

The Cities Law states that a city of more than 500,000 residents may have six deputy mayors. Since Jerusalem has 800,000 residents, it would be reasonable for its municipality to have eight deputy mayors, the explanation to the law says.