Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat spoke to Arutz Sheva on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the 9th Jerusalem Conference, sponsored by the Besheva Magazine.
Barkat, who earlier addressed the attendees of the Jerusalem Conference, mentioned some of the plans that he and the city of Jerusalem have been advancing.
Economically, said Barkat, “We’ve seen a very nice growth in culture and tourism that translates to jobs and expansion of the job market. Looking to the future, continuing that trend can help Jerusalem rise above its poverty level, strengthen the city, and expand the job market.”
A second trend the mayor addressed is the city’s educational system, which he said is currently on the right track.
“We have growth, for the first time in 20 years, in the number of pupils in the Zionist educational streams, both in the national and national-religious systems,” said Barkat. “We see better results in eligibility for matriculations, and we see more satisfaction by the residents from the education system.”
Barkat also addressed the city’s investment in all parts of Jerusalem, including east Jerusalem. This includes investing in road infrastructure, new classrooms and increasing Israel’s sovereignty in all parts of its capital.
“We see more and more positive feedback from all residents of the city of Jerusalem,” he said.
Addressing the calls by the world to “freeze” in the city of Jerusalem, Barkat said that when he’s asked to “freeze” in Jerusalem, he usually asks what that means.
“I ask people, ‘What do you actually mean by freezing in Jerusalem?’” he said. “Do you freeze all the infrastructure we’re building? Do you freeze the classrooms we’re building for residents of east Jerusalem? G-d forbid, do you want us to freeze everything – for Jews, Christians and Muslims? Or even worse, do people actually ask us to freeze only to Jewish people, which is illegal in Israel, is anti-constitutional in the United States and is illegal under any law?”
“The bottom line is that we’ll be building in the city of Jerusalem for all residents, Jews and non-Jews alike, in all parts of the city,” Barkat emphasized. “Thank G-d, we’re seeing growth in economy, in education, in infrastructure. The city is indeed moving in the right direction.”
He also emphasized that Jews and non-Jews alike must adhere to the law and build legally in east Jerusalem. “As long as they build legally, we will support and help people fulfill their ability to build in all parts of the city, including Jewish buildings in east Jerusalem or anywhere else.”
“The court expects us to expand the legal building in a positive way and prosecute for the illegal buildings all across the city,” said Barkat. “Those elements are the right policy to decrease the illegal building and to supervise the construction in the city of Jerusalem.”