Among the political parties which published a platform ahead of the elections for the 24th Knesset, four included Jerusalem in the framework of their platforms, while two chose not to do so. Those parties which include Jerusalem in their platforms are Tikva Hadasha, Yisrael Beiteinu, Meretz, and Yesh Atid, while Jerusalem does not appear in the platforms of Kachol Lavan, or Hamiflaga Hacalcalit Hachadasha. In this context, it is important to note that there are parties which never publish a platform, among them the Likud, Shas, Yahadut Hatorah and Ra’am, while others, according to studies conducted by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, intend, so they say, to Jerusalem in their platforms, although they haven’t yet published them. These include: Yamina, HaAvoda, HaZionut HaDatit, and HaReshima HaMeshutefet.
Among the parties that do relate to Jerusalem, Tikva Hadasha chose to thoroughly include the city, and even devoted a designated plan to the city (Plan of Hope for Jerusalem); Yisrael Beiteinu devoted a paragraph to Jerusalem in its platform; Meretz allotted a clause to the city in the political section of its platform and referred to it in the context of other relevant clauses; while Yesh Atid spoke of Jerusalem incidentally (in the context of its general attitude toward big cities in the country, and of religion and state).
The attitude toward Jerusalem consists of different political and civil aspects.
In the context of the political aspects, the parties aspire to change the political status of all or parts of the city; this ranges from a declaration of Israeli sovereignty over every part of the city, with the ensuing obligation to work to develop the entire city and to narrow gaps with East Jerusalem (Tikva Hadasha), to a declaration that there will be no negotiations regarding Jerusalem (Yisrael Beiteinu), to shared sovereignty in the city, and finally, to declaring Jerusalem the capital of two states, while also dealing with the personal status of the residents of East Jerusalem by getting rid of doing away with the possibility of canceling the residency status and granting Israeli citizenship to those who desire it (Meretz).
Furthermore, Yisrael Beiteinu and Meretz state that they intend to work toward free access to the holy sites in Jerusalem for members of all religions, and to religious worship. Meretz adds that it will act to preserve and prevent the destruction and neglect of Jerusalem’s important historical, local, and national sites. In this context, Yesh Atid addresses the Western Wall Plaza, declaring that it will work toward a new plan for the plaza “The Western WallCompromise” (Mitveh Ha’Kotel), so that there will be an equal distribution of men and women, and the creation of a third plaza for the Jewish public of all stripes.
Alongside the ideological gap which shapes the different perspectives regarding the political aspects, the attitudes expressed and the declarations regarding the civil aspects come from a shared aspiration by all the relevant parties to work to strengthen Jerusalem. In this context, the most important stratum of the city to be strengthened is its economic development:
Tikva Hadasha declares that it will work to create 70,000 new jobs in the city (employment data can be found in the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook) with emphasis on positions in government, high-tech, media, finance, professional services and tourism. It also states that it will work to promote technological training among weak populations while establishing additional employment zones within the city limits.
Yesh Atid as well, which, as stated, only mentions Jerusalem in the context of the metropolitan areas, declares it will work to increase the percentage of those employed in high-tech (which constitutes an important growth engine) and to develop significant focal points for high-tech and manufacturing. The party mentions that it is not referring to high-tech in only its classic sense, but also its use in the manufacturing industry, agriculture, commerce and services, transportation, social services and more.
Yisrael Beiteinu declares that it will work to strengthen the city in various ways, such as via the tourism sector. Tikva Hadasha also commits itself to work to develop and strengthen tourism and culture in Jerusalem, and notes that it will invest efforts in branding and in increasing the support of cultural and spiritual activities and institutions.
Another way to develop the city is through actions which strengthen its infrastructure and by building connections with surrounding cities. In this framework, one may note the actions undertaken to develop metropolitan Jerusalem, for a major city is built from its metropolis (we discuss this comprehensively in our blog).
In order to strengthen infrastructure, Tikva Hadasha declares that it will work to connect the major access roads to Jerusalem by upgrading the transportation system in the surrounding areas, as well as by establishing a metropolitan authority and a government umbrella framework. They hope this will enable the creation and oversight of regional strategic plans for the development and prosperity of metropolitan Jerusalem. Meretz declares that it will promote public transportation lanes at the entrances to the big cities, including Jerusalem, and will also advocate for a mass transit system in the city.
With regard to the housing issue, Tikva Hadasha declares its intention to build 40,000 housing units with the goal of addressing the housing shortage and the demographic growth. They also intend to address it by means of urban renewal, utilization of supplementary lands, constructing projects intended for long-term rental, and by finding a solution for the empty “ghost apartments,” abandoned properties, and more.
Two parties allude to the possibility of transferring government units to the city to boost the status of Jerusalem as the capital city or the seat of government. The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research has dealt extensively with this topic, including with The Gov. City project.
Yisrael Beiteinu promises to work to promote the transfer of government and public institutions to the city, while Tikva Hadasha declares that it will work to transfer all government offices to the city, and refers to attempts to encourage additional embassies to move to Jerusalem and to strengthen international recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
In conclusion, it seems that the majority of the parties that published a platform chose to include Jerusalem in one way or another, and that despite the profusion of opinions and the disagreements among them, they all aspire to promote and strengthen the city.
Will these aspirations and declarations endure? And more importantly, will they translate into action? Here at the Jerusalem Institute, we promise to continue to follow developments and to keep you informed.