Jerusalem Teen Drug Rehab Averts Closure After Court Intervention

Mayor Barkat planned to shut the highly successful center due to high deficit and number of non-Jerusalem residents in treatment; Health Ministry to seek new operator to take over January 1.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Youth at the center in Lifta, November 9, 2011.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The threatened closure of a Jerusalem drug rehabilitation center for teens has been averted, at least through year's end, the Jerusalem municipality and the Health Ministry said Tuesday.

Though the center has been widely praised for its success in treating young addicts, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat two months ago had decided to shut it down, both because it was running a deficit of about 500,000 shekels ($144,000) and because most of the addicts it treated weren’t Jerusalem residents.

But after a court petition against the decision was filed by the Tzahor organization, which seeks to promote “justice, freedom, education and welfare in Jerusalem,” the closure was postponed while the case was heard.

On Tuesday, the municipality and the Health Ministry told the court they had reached an agreement under which the municipality will continue operating the center until the end of the year. In the meantime, the ministry will issue a tender for a new operator to take over on January 1.

Attorney Yosef Havilio, who filed the petition on Tzahor’s behalf, termed the decision “a great achievement.” But he said his client will demand that the center be kept open until a new operator is chosen, even if the selection process isn’t finished in 2014.

He also said Tzahor will consider bidding to take over the center’s operations “to preserve the place’s successful methods and staff.”