Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

3 Shevat 5759 - Jan. 20, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Delays in Forming Jerusalem Municipality Coalition

by Betzalel Kahn

Rabbi Uri Lapolianski, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and chairman of the UTJ party in the Municipality, told Yated Ne'eman that he expects that Mayor Ehud Olmert will announce the formation of the municipal coalition at the Jerusalem City Council meeting to take place on Tu BeShevat.

"There is no doubt that Olmert must form a coalition in the near future, to enable the municipality and all of its committees to begin working. This is especially important in light of the fact that, at the directives of maranan verabonon, the chareidim voted for him en masse because of the cooperation which has, for a number of years existed between him and the chareidi community," said Rabbi Lapolianski.

Although elections for Jerusalem's city council were held two months ago, a coalition still hasn't been formed due to the mayor's attempts to include Yerushalayim Achshav chairman Arnon Yekutieli in the coalition. Yekutieli is also the chairman of Am Chofshi and is notorious for his virulent attacks against the chareidi community.

Recently, Yekutieli launched an all-out campaign against chareidim with demagogic slogans such as: "Separate money from religion," and "This year, 22 soldiers were killed in Lebanon, and not one of the chareidi draft dodgers was killed in the tents of Torah," as well as additional jarring expressions, which result in rabble rousing to the point that some link this appalling incitement to several violent attacks against chareidim.

Immediately after the elections, Rabbi Uri Lapolianski made it clear to the mayor that there can be no coalition with both the chareidim and someone like Arnon Yekutieli who constantly attacks and incites against chareidi Jewry.

When asked why the mayor is taking so long to form a coalition, Rabbi Lapolianski said that Olmert believes that it is important to form the widest possible coalition.

"The mayor is attempting to join the two extremes. We made it absolutely clear that cooperation can be achieved between different approaches, but not when there is wild provocation and vicious incitement. Olmert is fully aware of our position. Nonetheless, he feels that it will be possible to bridge the gap. We explained that we have no problem with the bridging of gaps in viewpoints, but that it is impossible to be a partner in a coalition with someone who seeks our blood," Rabbi Lapolianski said.

Rabbi Lapolianski also said, "There were joint discussions with the other religious factions (NRP and Shas), and all of their representatives, without exception, agreed with our position. All of the religious and chareidi representations in the City Council insist that there must be neither dissension nor animosity in the new coalition, in accordance with the principles determined by gedolei Yisroel."

Rabbi Lapolianski rejected the possibility that a coalition might not be formed altogether, and said, "It is difficult to believe that there won't be a coalition in the near future. . . . In addition, it is inconceivable that the chareidi community be held hostage, even if there is a lack of agreement, and it is unthinkable for the largest city in Israel to lack the dynamics necessary for its ongoing functioning. Therefore, I believe that it won't be possible to delay the establishment of the coalition any more than two weeks, when the Council next plans to convene."

Rabbi Lapolianski also stressed that there is no connection between the allocation of political positions in the Municipality and the fact that the coalition still hasn't been formed.

"We are speaking about promises which have already been agreed upon. The issue of positions in the city council is not what has caused the delay in forming the coalition. Only the fundamental issue has caused this. There are other fundamental points which require attention and which are related to the public sanctity of Jerusalem and the granting of equal opportunities and rights to the chareidi community, in accordance with the agreements," Rabbi Lapolianski said.


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