Netanyahu Intervenes to End Yerushalayim Strike

YERUSHALAYIM -
Piles of garbage caused by a strike of the Jerusalem municipality, in Meah Shearim on Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The municipal workers strike in Yerushalayim was suspended on Tuesday evening, after Mayor Nir Barkat accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to present the city’s grievances at next Sunday’s cabinet meeting, according to media reports.

At issue is an NIS 300 million funding gap in what Barkat says was promised to the city by the Finance Ministry for its operations in 2017. He warned that if adequate funding is not forthcoming, hundreds of people will be put out of work.

While Barkat has blamed the Finance Ministry for the crisis, Ministry officials say the financial problems are due to mismanagement, and asked Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri to appoint a city accountant to stop the municipality from holding Yerushalayim residents “hostage to foreign interests.”

The municipality denied the accusations of mismanagement and in turn accused the Ministry of waging a dishonest media campaign.

Since the strike began on Sunday, garbage collection, welfare and social services were almost completely shut down. Matters became progressively worse, as the educational system was affected as well. On Monday, high schools and middle schools started at 10 a.m. and kindergarten afternoon programs were canceled altogether. On Tuesday, municipal daycare centers were closed, though programs for special needs children continued normally.