The Basic Laws of Israel, what is essentially the local constitution, state that Jerusalem is both the capital and the seat of government. However, around 140 government offices consisting of 2,700 workers currently sit outside the city. This according to the State Comptroller’s recent report which criticized the government’s intransigence on the matter.
One decade ago, former Jerusalem mayor and then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a decision to move all government offices back to the capital. Since then, few have done so and recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed off a decision on the matter until 2019.
In addition to the government offices, no government companies have made the move either.
Recently, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin had been pushing for sanctions against ministries that did not meet the deadline to move. The sanctions were opposed by a number of ministers including Miri Regev who once famously wore a dress adorned with an image of the old city.
The lack of action on the issue by ministers who passionately defend the importance and unity of Jerusalem is particularly puzzling. If the offices were to move it would likely be a boon to the struggling local economy.
Mayoral candidate Ofer Berkovitch, who has been pushing for the government offices to move for some time, called on the Prime Minister to take action. According to Berkovitch, the day that the United States embassy moved to the city proved that “The President of the United States is a more serious Jerusalem patriot than many members of the government.”