Barkat: 'Just Say No' to Splitting Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says Israel should "just say 'no'" when it comes to the Arab demand for half of Jerusalem.

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Maayana Miskin, | updated: 19:11

Mayor Nir Barkat
Mayor Nir Barkat
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat addressed a crowd in Atlanta on Monday at the annual Jewish National Fund Conference. Barkat discussed the Palestinian Authority's demand that Israel hand over all parts of the city that were under Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967 to become the capital of a new Arab state. During this period, Jordan did not respect UN decisions that called for free access to religious sites in the city to all religions and did not allow Jews to visit the Western Wall, vandalized the Mount of Olives cemetery, and blew up the Hurvah synagogue.

Barkat offered a straightforward solution: "We just have to say a simple 'No' about Jerusalem to the Palestinians and move on," he said.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas demands control over all formerly Jordanian parts of Israel's capital city, including the Old City and other historically Jewish areas. The city has been unified for decades, since it was annexed following the Six Day War of 1967.

Jerusalem must remain "the united, undivided capital of Israel," Barkat told his audience.

Barkat's speech took place on the second day of the JNF event. The JNF works to develop Israeli land and infrastructure. Its Atlanta conference focused on "core issues challenging Israel, and insights into opportunities to affect change," according to organizers.

Earlier this year Barkat released an outline of his vision for Jerusalem's future. "The vision I have for the city is to return Jerusalem to the role it played two and three thousand years ago as a world center - a destination for pilgrims and believers throughout the world," the mayor wrote. He addressed Arab demands to divide the city in his manifesto, saying, "Jerusalem must stay united. There is not one example in the world of a divided city that ever worked."

Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh recently wrote a piece revealing that much of Jerusalem's Arab population prefers Israeli rule to that of the PA. It is only fair to ask the Arabs living in Jerusalem what they want before talking about splitting the city, Toameh said.

Approximately 200,000 Arabs live in the northern, eastern, and southern neighborhoods of Jerusalem demanded by the PA. However, more than 180,000 Israeli Jews live in those areas as well.








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