Bet Shemesh Weekly News Round-Up

By Rabbi Dov Lipman

CITY COUNCIL VOTES ON PLOT 420, RESIDENTS GO TO COURT
The city council voted this week to remove plot 420 from the hands of a yeshivat hesder and another dati yeshiva to use for caravans for chareidi chadarim.  The heated meeting ended with a 10-7 vote in favor's of the Mayor's plan.  The residents of Nofei Hashemesh, Nofei Aviv, and Sheinfeld who view this as a step towards transferring the adjacent Orot campus to chareidi schools have begun the process of fighting the Mayor's decision in court.   The Mayor explained that since neither of those two yeshivot have taken steps towards construction, there is no reason not to use this land for these caravans.

FIRES CONTINUE 
The terrible fires in the area continued this week with a major fire near Moshav Sdot Micha on Tuesday.  Close to 3,000 dunam of land were destroyed by the fire, Moshav Sdot Micha and Tirosh had to be evacuated, 7 airplanes had to be used to contain the fire, and three firemen were hurt while fighting the fire.  Investigators announced that all indications point to arson.  There were a number of smaller fires in the city throughout the week including one which damaged homes on Rechov Arazim.  The cause of that fire is still being investigated. 

NOFEI HASHEMESH TO GET THEIR SHUL?
Mayor Abutbol has been adamantly against the new community of Nofei Hashemesh, led by Rabbi Shalom Rosner, getting land for a shul.  However, a protest of close to 300 residents this past week seems to have swayed some of the city council members including Moshe Montag (Degel Hatorah) who holds the construction portfolio.  Montag indicated that he now understands how badly the people want their shul and that he wants to try to find some kind of solution.  At the city council meeting, Shalom Lerner pointed out that council members who had no problem not granting the land for the shul were the very same people who recently spoke of Rabbi Rosner's community at an aliyah fair in South Africa!    

PROGRESS FOR YESHIVAT HESDER??? 
While the conflict regarding land for the Yeshivat Hesder continues, progress is being made on permits for the yeshivat hesder.  Richard Peres (Labor), who ironically voted against the yeshiva holding onto plot 420, met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak (pictured) to move forward with the proper permits for the yeshiva which had not been obtained until now.   

GILAD SHALIT - HONORARY CITIZEN OF THE CITY
The city council unanimously approved a declaration naming Gilad Shalit as an honorary citizen of Bet Shemesh.  This was done in conjunction with the walk which the Shalit's are taking from their home to Jerusalem which will pass through Bet Shemesh this coming week. 


HIGHWAY 10 WORK TO BEGIN - BUT NOT WITHOUT CONTROVERSY
Mayor Abutbol announced at this past week's city council meeting that he had obtained all the approvals necessary from the government offices to begin work on improving Highway 10 (the back road)including the sign off from Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.  City councilman, Natan Sheetrit (Likud), challenged this announcement by pointing out that construction on Highway 10 will send traffic to Highway 38 which is already congested and in desperate need for improvements.  The Mayor dismissed this concern and work on Highway 10 should begin shortly. 

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