Daily Israel Report

Barkat Admits: Police Don't Dare Enter Eastern Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat admits that Israeli police do not enforce the law in Arab neighborhoods of the city.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/25/2009, 9:58 AM

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Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the Supreme Court this week that the city of Jerusalem does not enforce Israeli law in many Arab neighborhoods east of the 1948 armistice line. Due to lack of coordination between the police and the IDF, neighborhoods east of the security barrier have largely seen criminal activity run wild, he admitted.

Barkat explained the situation in a response to a petition from Jerusalem activist Aryeh King. King accused the city of failing to enforce building laws in Arab neighborhoods, and of tacitly allowing Arabs to build on Jewish-owned and state lands in the eastern part of the city.

The problem dates back to a government decree issued years ago according to which Israeli police must be accompanied by soldiers while working in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Barkat explained. Police are unable to get military protection in order to enter the relevant areas and enforce the law, and so simply do not do so, he said.

'No help from the IDF'
"The situation does not allow for the continuous and effective enforcement of building laws in neighborhoods east of the security barrier,” Barkat stated. “The municipality has not received assistance from the military in providing security for its own law enforcement workers.”

King has named the Jerusalem municipality in his suit as one of the bodies that has allowed illegal Arab construction to continue without impediment in many majority-Arab areas in the capital city. Barkat's attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to remove the Jerusalem municipality from the list of defendants, as for legal reasons the municipality relies on the military when it comes to law enforcement in those areas.

As proof that the Jerusalem municipality has done all in its power to address the problem, Barkat presented the court with a letter from himself to Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovich. The letter, sent earlier in the year, describes the problem of law enforcement east of the security barrier in Jerusalem and asks Aharonovich to help by appointing an official or a body to coordinate the complex situation.

In the letter, Barkat tells Aharonovich that the failure to coordinate law enforcement has led to a situation in which criminal behavior is widespread east of the Jerusalem security barrier.