Israel Cabinet Gets Report on “chaos” in Jerusalem Municipality

A committee formed last February to inquire into the “chaotic affairs of the Jerusalem municipality” has submitted its report to the Israel Cabinet. The committee, under the chairmanship of Judge Isaac Olshan, blames the deterioration in Jerusalem’s situation on the “abnormal rise in prices, the high cost of living index which made it impossible for the municipality to balance its budget without sharply increasing taxes, ” and on the “city’s geographical situation.”

The committee noted that the 1948 siege of Jerusalem paralyzed the city’s commercial life and “almost completely destroyed Jerusalem’s economic structure.” The report went on to say that the city’s population, during the past five years, has more than doubled (it is now 150,000), but “there is no longer the economic stability, that prevailed before the Arab-Israel war.”

Half of the city is inhabited by a population that is living on grants from abroad, the report said. It pointed out that the Talpiot immigrant center, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, is inhabited by many persons who are unable to work. Many government and other institutional offices in the city were exempted from taxation, the report emphasized.

The committee asked the two main parties in the municipality–between which there has been considerable friction–to declare an “armistice” until new elections are held. Until then, the committee recommended that the city’s affairs be controlled by a seven-member directorate, comprising the mayor and three members of each party.

The report also suggested that elections be held on a non-party basis, or that the city be divided into “constituencies by ballot.” The committee also urged that the mayor be elected directly, and not by the municipal council, and that he be prohibited from carrying out administrative or executive functions.” Furthermore, it was recommended that 11 members be elected to the city council and three appointed by the Israel Government. The city’s administrative tasks should be fulfilled by a specially-appointed “city manager,” the report urged.

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