Daily Israel Report

Jerusalem Councilman Dismissed After Opposing Arab Building

'Leftist' Mayor Barkat dismisses Aryeh King for petitioning housing plans he charges threaten balance of capital.
By Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 9/5/2014, 11:12 AM

Aryeh King
Aryeh King
Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Friday dismissed Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King from his position on the municipal coalition, due to an administrative petition King submitted to the Jerusalem District Court over recent Arab building plans.

In the letter to King, Barkat wrote "coalition members can't do conflicting things - both being part of the coalition that outlines the municipal policy and its actions, and also to attack the municipality in petitions to the courts."

This week King sharply criticized Barkat for approving 2,200 new housing units for Arab residents of Jerusalem, a move made after it was revealed on Monday that 2,500 building tenders for Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria were frozen by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"This is crazy and runs contrary to a previous decision not to go ahead with the program until the building committee can confirm the need for large-scale construction in Arab neighborhoods," stated King while speaking to Arutz Sheva.

King argued the plan "was put forward by the leftists to establish their own the demographic balance in the city, and link Area B to the downtown area - all of this without discussing the issue with the city council."

Responding to the decision to dismiss him, King said "the cat is out of the bag. It would be good for Jerusalem residents to have understood that it was known in advance that the mayor of the city is a member of the leftist camp, who strives for a de facto division of Jerusalem, and works against the interest of the Jewish people in Jerusalem."

"Barkat unfortunately tries to act like a member of the right-wing, smiling and embracing rabbis and right-wingers, but he is someone who endangers the future of Jerusalem as a unified Jewish city," added King.

The dismissed councilman concluded by calling on right-wing leaders and rabbis who are close to Barkat, including the family of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt''l, "to cut contact with (Barkat), because he is using you to cover nakedness" as a member of the right.

King further noted on his Facebook page Friday that he has tried to contact Economics Minister and Minister of Jerusalem and Disapora Affairs Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and his office director with no answer, after learning from an Arutz Sheva interview that Bennett pressed Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovitz (Jewish Home) to vote for the new Arab building project.

A short but active stint on the municipality

The Jerusalem municipality is claiming that the decision to dismiss King is unrelated to the topic of King's petition, asserting that submitting a petition against the municipality goes against the coalition agreement.

It should be noted that councilman Shmuel Shkedi, likewise a member of King's "United Jerusalem" faction, will not lose his position on the municipal council as a result of the decision.

King held the post of chairperson of the Environment Committee and Deputy Chairperson of the Emergency and Security Committee, as well as being a member on the regional Planning and Building Committee.

He used his position to strengthen the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem, where roughly 200,000 Jews live alongside approximately 230,000 Arabs.

Those efforts including increasing security, adding bus lines to ease transportation for Jews, and even an initiative to limit the raucous nighttime Muslim muezzin prayer call.