Government Approves Extra Funding for Jerusalem – but Not Through Municipality

Mayor Barkat backs down from anti-Kahlon campaign after finance minister approves assistance through Jerusalem Affairs Ministry.

Tomer Appelbaum

The cabinet approved a plan Sunday to strengthen businesses in Jerusalem by increasing funding to the city, through the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry and other bodies rather than through the Jerusalem municipality. At Sunday’s cabinet meeting Mayor Nir Barkat apologized for a campaign he had launched against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon before the plan was approved, and said he was ending his boycott of the Jerusalem affairs minister, Zeev Elkin.

The aggressive campaign Barkat launched a few weeks ago slammed Kahlon for refusing to increase funding to the municipality. The campaign included numerous posters accusing Kahlon of abandoning the city. Barkat had also refused to cooperate with Elkin because he opposed the latter’s appointment as Jerusalem affairs minister. Barkat said the ministry was only an obstacle to the municipality.

In response to the campaign, the treasury began to approve assistance to the city, although it bypasses the municipality. However, on Sunday Barkat came to the cabinet meeting and said he welcomed the plan.

“Jerusalem is above everything,” the mayor said after the cabinet meeting. “I’m glad we decided to put political disputes aside and cooperate and do the best thing for Jerusalem.”

Officials in the municipality said the plan would not have been approved if Barkat had not mounted his campaign against the finance minister, and now the two sides can sit down to negotiate over increased funding for the city.

In the official statement released by the ministries of finance, tourism and Jerusalem affairs, the municipality was not even mentioned. The additional funding will be channeled through the government ministries and the Jerusalem Development Authority, not through the municipality.

“Today we are strengthening Jerusalem’s citizens and small and medium-size businesses in the city in days that are not simple,” Kahlon said. “And we say to you, we are all here for you With this decision we ensure that all the funding we transfer will go directly to the residents of Jerusalem and to the city’s most essential needs.”