Strike Threatened Over Fate of Library, Community Center

The Prime Ministers Office responded that a draft plan to end the crisis would be submitted to the cabinet Sunday.

Unless a way to open Kiryat Shmona's cultural institutions is found by Sunday - as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged earlier this week - the city's schools will shut down a week early and the roads in and out of the city will be blocked, the city's strike committee said yesterday.

The Prime Ministers Office responded that a draft plan to end the crisis would be submitted to the cabinet Sunday.

The strike committee, consisting of the mayor and council members, parent-teacher association, manufacturers and residents, renewed its strike warning yesterday after putting it off following the prime minister's promise at Sunday's cabinet session.

"After the community center and municipal library closed down and the imminent closure of the cultural center, the mayor decided to launch a relentless campaign against the government's ongoing policy to 'dry out' Kiryat Shmona and deprive its children of the privilege central region children receive," the strike committee said.

"We believe the prime minister will keep his promises. However, we are ready to fight to solve the city's problems if his promises are not kept," the committee said.

The committee also demands implementing a cabinet decision, made under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after the Second Lebanon War, to bring industry into the city and contract local plants for the Defense Ministry projects, to give discounted day-care fees for working mothers and build housing for young couples.

Following the strike committee's announcement yesterday, the Prime Minister's Office announced it had drafted a solution enabling the continued operation of the city's community center, library and cultural center. The decision will be submitted for the cabinet's approval on Sunday.

At Sunday's cabinet session, Netanyahu said a solution to the Kiryat Shmona crisis would be found within a week. He said he had spoken with ministers and "we have reached an agreement on how to deal with it to resolve the matter within a week. I have informed Kiryat Shmona's Mayor Nissim Malka about this decision and we're on our way."

This announcement averted the school strike planned for that day in the northern city.

The date for the library's closure had been known for a full year, nonetheless no preparation was made at the city or the government level to resolve the budget crisis.

At 1 P.M. today, a convoy of vehicles will set out for Kiryat Shmona carrying books from Book Week stalls nationwide, many of them donated by writers.

Authors Uri Orlev, Michal Snunit, Smadar Shir and Yehuda Atlas will accompany the convoy.

The books will be taken by city officials in charge of education and brought to the library when it reopens.

Naftali Raz, who initiated the convoy, said "when the government is holding a homefront drill, it had better understand the homefront's fortitude is reflected by social fortitude. Closing Kiryat Shmona's library damages the social fortitude."

Businessman Nochi Dankner pledged during the Israeli Presidential Conference this week that his IDB group was "committed to rehabilitate the community center and continue the operation of the culture center, library and community theater."