The Jerusalem Municipality filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the Ministry of Finance, which claims that the Ministry of Finance is not fulfilling its obligation by law to transfer all the government units currently outside the capital to Jerusalem. The grim situation shows that more than 163 government units located outside of Jerusalem do so in violation of Basic Jerusalem Law and the government decisions that were made on the subject for the next decade, as well as the loss of more than 10,000 Jerusalem jobs.
According to an examination conducted by the Jerusalem Municipality, more than 100 government units did not request an exceptional permit in the matter, and some of them do not sit in Jerusalem, although their request for an exception was rejected in a clear and decisive manner. The municipality also requested that the court issue an injunction against the Ministry of Finance and instruct it not to approve and renew new leases and any expenditure to government offices outside of Jerusalem.
According to the petition, not only does the Ministry of Finance run away from its responsibility for the transfer of all government units to Jerusalem, but no less than 8 units belonging to the Ministry of Finance itself, do not reside in Jerusalem in blatant violation of the law. For example, the National Unit for Supervision of Construction in the Ministry of Finance is located in Tel Aviv. The headquarters unit for border crossings at the Ministry of Finance is located in Netanya. The organized crime unit and the liquidation unit of the Finance Ministry are based in Lod. The Finance Taxation Unit of the Ministry of Finance is located in Tel Aviv, Income tax investigations. Most of the units in the Finance Ministry have chosen to act for themselves, and not even apply for approval from the Exceptions Committee, as required by law. The Housing Administration in the Ministry of Finance also approved the renewal of rental contracts and the location of housing outside the boundaries of Jerusalem, without requesting the approval of the exceptions committee. The Finance Ministry gave the municipality various excuses, among them: “The workers live in the Sharon region and the north,” “the unit is small,” “there is no point in moving the unit” and more. The municipality notes in its petition that “all appeals to the Minister of Finance as a window on the subject have been futile and have remained unanswered.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat noted that “when even the president of the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the time has come for the Finance Ministry to recognize it and transfer the government units to it. The Ministry of Finance’s failure to implement the law to transfer 163 government units to Jerusalem gravely harms the capital of Israel and creates a huge loss of NIS 2 billion for the city’s economy over the next decade and damages 10,000 jobs that needed to be Jerusalem jobs.
Municipal property tax payments should have financed more education, more welfare and more infrastructure development and cleanliness in the capital. The economic strength and status of Jerusalem are affected daily. This is even more important when we are struggling to get a proper budget for the capital from the treasury. We asked the High Court of Justice to put an end to the contempt for the law and to uphold the government’s decisions, as Ben-Gurion said – the State of Israel would have only one capital – eternal Jerusalem, and so it will be until the end of time.”
The petition alleges that “the Ministry of Finance does not comply with the decisions of the government and does everything in its power to prevent the relocation of the units to Jerusalem …”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)