Jerusalem residents scatter trash around mayor's home
Residents of capital protest sanitation workers' strike by scattering trash around home of Mayor Barkat; in protest of non-increase of annual 'capital grant', Barkat ordered sanitation workers to strike, threatened to lay off 2,150 employees; despite municipality's claims, grant has grown in recent years.
The Jerusalem municipality receives an increment to its budget every year dubbed the "capital grant." While other local authorities in Israel receive grants for balanced budgets, Jerusalem receives a grant stemming from its special status and needs as capital and yet of the country's poorest cities, influenced by the large incidence of poor Haredim and Arab residents.
Employees of the Jerusalem municipality announced a general strike Thursday, set to commence Saturday night following the municipality announcing 2,150 employees will be laid off.
Sanitation workers began disruption in their work the same day, with piles of garbage stacking up in the Mahane Yehuda Market. Employees who have already received letters of dismissal, meanwhile, blocked the entrance the municipality director-general's offices Thursday.
The layoffs were a strategic move on Barkat's part, announcing them as a part of his claims of discrimination on the Finance Ministry and Minister Kahlon's part, regarding not increasing the city's annual "capital grant"—despite the fact the grant ballooned these past few years.
In 2017, for example, the grant was NIS 700 million, an increase of more than NIS 200 million compared to the grant the Jerusalem municipality received in 2016.
Barkat's campaign took on a more aggressive tone with the publication of billboards around the city blasting the finance minister. Last weekend, Barkat took out newspaper ads against Kahlon, which he paid for out of pocket, and earlier last week he was assisted by the municipality's sanitation workers, who blocked the entrance to the Jerusalem offices of the Ministry of Finance with piles of trash and garbage trucks.
Some of the city's ordinary residents, however, had decided they had had enough with the struggle they said was being waged at their expense, prompting the decision to scatter trash around Barkat's home.
"Nir Barkat is being vulgar. It started with last year's strikes and scattering trash around the city. Now not only is the trash not being collected, but Barkat also gave word to intentionally throw it around the market and sully the city," one of the protesters said.
"Beyond his intention to dismiss more than 2,000 people, which he announced before even meeting with the finance minister, in the meantime he's flexing his muscles and causing real harm to Jerusalem residents. Stop using the city's populace as hostages for his mess with the Finance Ministry," the protester demanded.