Jerusalem in peril?
Bibi to Make Barkat Jerusalem Affairs Minister

Agreement reportedly reached giving Barkat Jerusalem Affairs Minister; Councilman King promises coalition coup and explains why.

Ari Yashar ,

Nir Barkat, Binyamin Netanyahu
Nir Barkat, Binyamin Netanyahu
Emil Salman/POOL/Flash 90

A report on Monday revealed that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told his associates in closed forums that he has reached an agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, by which the position of Minister of Jerusalem Affairs is reserved for him.

According to the report from Channel 10, the Jerusalem Affairs Minister spot which has been held by Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett in the current coalition would be promised to Barkat - Netanyahu has the right to fill the 11th and 23rd spot on Likud's Knesset list with a candidate of his choosing.

Netanyahu and Barkat have met frequently and currently are checking the legality of having Barkat serve jointly as Jerusalem Mayor and Jerusalem Affairs Minister, according to the report.

Netanyahu reportedly is interested in the union because Jerusalem's deputy mayors are leaning towards supporting Moshe Kahlon's new Kulanu party instead. The prime minister's office denied the reports, and Barkat's office refused to comment on private conversations.

Responding to the news on Monday, Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King reacted with concern on Facebook, warning that such a move would be a clear "danger" to Jerusalem.

If Barkat is given the ministerial post, King wrote "I promise as a member of the city council and chairman of the Jerusalem United party to initiate a discussion in the Jerusalem United party and to reach a decision to leave Barkat's coalition."

After breaking from the coalition, King vowed to "do everything possible to establish an opposition in the municipality against the mayor, a fighting opposition that will press him to resign and hold mayoral elections."

Implementing Peace Now policy

Why the opposition to Barkat? King explained by listing a series of acts taken by the mayor in his position, saying that for five years he has been "implementing the policy of Peace Now and the radical left."

King listed how Barkat approved building plans for a total of around 7,000 housing units for Arab residents in the Al-Sawahira Al-Gharbiyya neighborhood of Jerusalem in 2014.

He also changed the designation of Nahal Og, which strategically connects the French Hill neighborhood with the E1 area, from a building zone to a municipal landfill in 2009, notes King.

Throughout Barkat's tenure from 2008 to 2014, King noted there has been a drop by hundreds of percentages in the number of demolitions of illegal Arab homes in eastern Jerusalem. In that same period, the demolition of Jewish homes in the western part of the city has increased by hundreds of percentages.

King points out Barkat has had five illegal synagogues destroyed, even as he refuses to destroy illegal mosques in the capital, of which there are a whopping 51.

Barkat also legalized 88 illegal Arab buildings on historical and strategic city land in the King's Garden (Gan Hamelekh) located south of the Old City in 2010.

In 2014, King listed that Barkat prevented streets from being given Hebrew names in eastern Jerusalem, whereas over 600 streets were given Arabic names in eastern Jerusalem.

From 2009 to 2014, King points out that Barkat funneled huge investments into culture, tourism and entertainment, and on the other hand did not invest in the "seam" neighborhoods on the edges of the 1949 Armistice lines bordering Arab majority neighborhoods.

Barkat also prevented real-time information from being given to Jerusalem residents regarding the incessant Arab attacks on the Jerusalem Light Rail in 2014 according to King. Indeed, Barkat demanded that the Light Rail "hush up" the terrorism before reversing his position later and demanding help in countering the phenomenon.

Finally, King accused Barkat of initiating a plan to hand over Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem to Palestinian Authority (PA) management in 2009, likely a reference to the eight neighborhoods King has noted Jews have been forbidden from entering since Barkat and Netanyahu took power.

King has previously criticized Barkat for advancing massive Arab construction projects, which he argued together with a freeze of Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem by Netanyahu is poised to lead to a de facto division of the city.

As part of that process, he noted that Netanyahu has not been sending police to accompany building inspectors to enforce building laws on Arab construction - there are 40,000 illegal Arab housing units in the city. 




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