Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat opened the second day of Arutz Sheva's 13th Jerusalem Conference, and attacked the political stance of opposition leader and head of the Zionist Union faction, Yitzhak Herzog.
Herzog proposed his policy, which included giving up control of the Arab neighborhoods in the city and turning them over to the Palestinian Authority, the previous day at the conference.
Barkat said "Herzog plans to crush this city. He wants to cut this city in half and build more and more fences in it. This plan, and that of Ramon, are games of hide-and-seek. They assume that if we do not see the problem than they will simply disappear." Barkat said that this philosophy was a slippery slope that "chips away at the philosophy that Jerusalem must remain a unified city."
Barkat praised how the people in the city have responded to terror attacks. "Almost every terror attack in the city is dealt with and solved within 60 seconds. I made requests to put blockades around the villages and neighborhoods where the terrorists come from immediately after the twin terror attacks that took place in Armon Hanatziv and Malakhei Yisrael neighborhoods. My request was immediately accepted and was put into place."
According to Barkat the proper way to deal with the terror in Jerusalem is to send the appropriate message to the perpetrators. "The message that was conveyed was that as long as the local leadership in those neighborhoods continues to grow, their situation will improve. As of today, there is only one blockade that is still in place, that is around the neighborhood of Jabal Mukhaber. We also extended the school day in the various neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem so that the school children will not be dragged into the wave of terror."
Barkat also noted that the city has finished a project to give street names to more that one thousand unnamed streets in the eastern neighborhoods of the city and has made continuing efforts to improve the quality of life for the residents. "We built an extra 500 class rooms in the eastern neighborhoods to help bring about a positive change within the populace, and we are seeing that change."
Barkat cited the fact that residents of the Arab neighborhoods are involving themselves more with the Jewish residents in the city rather that the Palestinian Authority (PA). " More and more residents of the eastern neighborhoods understand that it is worth their while to work together with Jewish society, and we see that even in the number of students who apply for the Israeli matriculation exams, rather than the PA matriculation exams."
Dealing with the area of education in the city, Barkat touched upon the rise in the number of national religious students that are registered in schools in the city. "For the past four years, consecutively, we are seeing a rise in the number of students that attend schools in the religious and national religious education systems."
During the conference, which is sponsored by Arutz Sheva and Besheva magazine, Barkat also said that the city has managed to reach record highs with regards to construction in the city in spite of all of the problems that surround the issue both locally, nationally and internationally.