MK Ze'ev Elkin
MK Ze'ev ElkinIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Coalition and Likud Knesset-faction Chairman Ze'ev Elkin expressed surprise that Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat is trying to persuade officials to accept his plan to divide Israel's capital.

"I regret that the mayor of Jerusalem, elected with the votes of the nationalist public, openly endorses the erosion of Jerusalem's unity," Elkin, who also chairs the Knesset Jerusalem Lobby, said.

"Neighborhoods Barkat wants to remove from his municipal jurisdiction are a part of the sovereign territory of Israel protected under the Basic Law... the Jerusalem law, and a  referendum we enacted in this Knesset,” he added.

According to Elkin, "excluding the areas and leaving them outside the security fence was a terrible mistake that only increases the numbers of Palestinians within the city, and harms the security situation. Who wants to add insult to injury and make some parts of Jerusalem like Gaza."

"It will turn Jerusalem into Sderot," Elkin said. "We cannot let this happen."

Sderot and other Israeli communities near Gaza have been targeted with over 12,000 rockets and mortar shells by terror organizations in the Hamas-run enclave.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) responded to Barkat's plan saying "Barkat is ignoring paragraph 97 of the Criminal Code of the State of Israel - that says any act which adversely impacts the sovereign territory of the country or surrenders land to a foreign state [without government approval]  is an act of betrayal."

"Barkat is attempting to fill the shoes of the Prime Minister and ignoring laws rather than imposing his authority as mayor in all parts of Jerusalem, which were entrusted into his hand."

Eldad is sponsoring a law that would declare Jerusalem to be the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish people.

Barkat is promoting swapping some municipal lands left outside Israel's security fence in exchange for other lands that remain within it. He says the plan would address the city's impotence when it comes to providing services and exercising of authority in neighborhoods that remain outside the fence.

Nationalist leaders have expressed dismay at Birkat's plan, which they say could have detrimental effects amid a struggle to maintain Jerusalem's deep historical and cultural Jewish identity.

Arutz Sheva learned that Barkat is also lobbying Rabbi Haim Druckman and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner for their support.

Rabbi Druckman reportedly expressed support for the program saying it actually increases the overall area of the city while leaving several frequently contentious Arab enclaves outside the fence.