Arieh King, a candidate for Jerusalem city council with the United Jerusalem (Yerushalayim Meuhedet) party met with members of the Arabic-speaking community of Jerusalem last week. The meeting took place in the Wadi Qaddum neighborhood located east of Mount of Olives near Abu Dis. "They support me because I'm the only candidate from eastern Jerusalem, like them. No one else really cares about their side of town," King told Arutz Sheva news. "I made it clear to them that my advocacy for improved infrastructure on this side of town stems from my concern for the residents but also to keep Jerusalem united and prevent any giveaway to the Palestinian Authority," King explained, "and they respected that."
King said the group's main concern was to upgrade the main road from the Mount of Olives to Armon Hanatziv. "It's an old road that originally went from Bethlehem to the Mount of Olives during the Jordanian times and it's never been renovated," King said, adding that the route today is narrow and slippery when wet. "Renovation will help both Jews and Arabs alike," King stated. "People from East Talpiot, Arnoma, the new neighborhood of Nof Tzion and others could use this road to access the Old City more easily, but it is underused because it's dangerous," he said.
Although King pledged to pour more investment into predominantly Arab neighborhoods, he said his outlook is much different then that of Jerusalem city council member Meir Margalit. Now running for re-election, the long time Meretz party councilor was given the eastern Jerusalem portfolio in 2011 and has touted his concern for Arab residents. Margalit and his party have been in the forefront of advocating for a two-state solution resulting in a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. "They don't want to invest in the eastern neighborhoods because they see them as eventually being cut off and given to the PA," King said. "But the residents told me they care much more about quality-of-life issues then giving up their Israeli citizenship and living under the PA rule," he said.
Elections will be held on October 22nd. In Jerusalem, 16 parties will be vying for the 30-member city council. Elections for mayor will take place as well.