Mayor Nir Barkat
Mayor Nir BarkatIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat blasted the reported U.S. demand to block Jewish construction in Jerusalem and said he would never allow a move to block construction for either Arabs or Jews anywhere in the city.

"Israeli law does not discriminate between Jews and Arabs and between east and west [Jerusalem],” the mayor emphasized. “The demand to specifically halt construction for Jews is not legal in the U.S. or in any other enlightened country in the world.”

"I cannot imagine the American administration demanding a halt to construction in the U.S. based upon race, religion or sex, and the attempt to demand this of Jerusalem constitutes a double standard and is unacceptable,” he added. “The Jerusalem Municipality will continue to enable construction in all parts of the city to both Arabs and Jews based, with one law for all.”

According to a report in the Israeli press Tuesday, U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to freeze a construction project in Gilo, but Netanyahu turned him down.