Ministers Again Refuse to Move Their Offices to Yerushalayim

A general view of the Finance Ministry in Yerushalayim. (Flash90)

While government ministers were excited about the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim, they were less enthusiastic Sunday over a proposal by Yerushalayim and Diaspora Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin to cut the budgets of ministries that refuse to move their headquarters from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. Elkin proposed the idea during Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, Hadashot News reported – and ministers unanimously rejected it.

It was just the latest attempt by Elkin to persuade, cajole, or otherwise force ministers to support moving their offices to the nation’s capital. Elkin is supported in his efforts by the Yerushalayim municipality, which in the past has filed lawsuits against ministries, including the Finance Ministry and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, to move their offices to the city. In the lawsuit, the municipality listed 163 government offices that are located outside Yerushalayim, even though only 53 have permits to be located outside the city.

According to the lawsuits, it’s not just a matter of “honor”; the damages to Yerushalayim are material, as the city loses out on taxes that could be recouped from their salaries, as well as on real estate tax (arnona) – which, the city claims, would net it more than NIS 86 million a year.

The failure of Elkin to convince ministers to move their offices to the city was criticized by opposition MK Ayelet Nachmias Warbin (Zionist Camp), who told Hadashot News that “ensuring that government offices operate from Yerushalayim could be the government’s greatest hour, but they prefer to operate on the level of slogans, instead of taking action.”