Israel will sanction ministries that do not move to the capital, but the city is not ready

The government of Israel has decided to sanction the ministries that do not transfer all their units to their capital. While two of Israel’s basic laws, which have quasi-constitutional status, dictate that all government departments and units are located in Jerusalem, and Israeli governments in the past have decided on more than one occasion to act so that the ministries comply, many departments remain located outside the capital.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz estimated that some 100 government departments are currently outside of Jerusalem.

Unlike past decisions, the proposal approved this week includes established timelines and penalties for noncompliance. The departments have 120 days to begin the process of transferring to Jerusalem, unless exempted by a dedicated committee. Otherwise, they will no longer receive funds for the renovation and office furnishings and will have to pay rent and property tax for both their office outside Jerusalem and their assigned unit in the city.

Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin said after the decision was approved that “it has been four years of fighting, during which three governments came and went, but we finally succeeded. The government approved today the proposal of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs under my leadership, which we tried to advance in 2018 but unfortunately we were blocked in the government meeting. “

“Finally, a decision with timelines and sanctions that will guarantee the relocation of all government departments from across the country to Jerusalem. It is time to transform the declarations into reality. This decision is important for the city, which will be able to develop economically and draw her, new residents, “he added.

An official from the Jerusalem Ministry of Affairs and Heritage who is close to the matter said that “the problem was that this decision [to move the departments] It had already happened in 2007, and there are units that have not even approached the planning process, they have not verified what their needs are when moving to Jerusalem. This is simply for convenience. You have to understand, you have employees who have been working for twenty years in the same building in Tel Aviv and all of a sudden you tell them to move to Jerusalem. “

The official stresses that “the decision does not mean that all government offices will move to Jerusalem tomorrow, that is clear to everyone. It is a process, something that takes time. The estimate is between five and eight years for the process to be completed ”. However, the sanctions will force departments that have been holding their feet to begin the process.

The Jerusalem Municipality spokesman said in a statement that “this is an excellent decision that adds to the decisions of past governments, such as decision number 1605 of 2014, regarding the transfer of national units, and because of them the units will actually move ”.

At the same time, in a statement to the press, the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe León, said that “the national units will move to Jerusalem but before that, we have to complete the preparatory work and that is what we are doing at present. : finish the construction of light 1, residential construction and, most importantly, office building to house the units ”.

“In fact,” said the municipality spokesperson, “today 95% of city offices are occupied. Moshe Leon is working personally and closely with relevant ministers and professionals to shorten deadlines. But the move will not be in the immediate future. “

The Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry official explained that “the government’s decision aims to strengthen Jerusalem and strategically position it as a government city.” Not least, he notes that the move of government offices is expected to add 10,000 workplaces, directly and indirectly, to the city, and hundreds of millions of shekels to the city coffers.

The Ministry of Health is a ministry that has several units outside the capital. In a statement, the ministry spokesman said that “the Health Ministry is acting on the government’s decision to transfer its units to Jerusalem. The central cause of the delay is the national fight against the coronavirus and the managerial attention that it demanded from the ministry ”.

Another such ministry is the Ministry of Transportation. In a statement, the ministry’s spokesman, Avner Ovadia, said that “the relocation of the rest of the units of the Ministry of Transport to Jerusalem was delayed as a result of the absence of a state budget in recent years that did not allow funds to be dedicated to move. “

“The Ministry of Transport has a plan in coordination with the Government’s Housing Division to transfer the units in 2022. The first three units will move to Jerusalem in the first quarter of 2022,” according to Ovadia.

While it is true that Israel has only recently approved a state budget, and the last one was approved 3.5 years ago, the government’s decision to relocate the units was first approved in 2007. Needless to say, Israel has not been suffering the effects of COVID. -19 since 2007.

Written by Daniel Sonnenefeld and republished with permission from The media line.

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