Jerusalem map
Jerusalem map iStock

In an Arutz Sheva interview, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Dov Kalmanovich refers to Minister Ze'ev Elkin's proposal to establish a municipal authority for two Arab neighborhoods on the other side of the fence, thereby preventing a demographic and governmental problem in the capital.

Kalmanovich expressed appreciation to Minister Elkin for raising the worrisome issue. On the other hand, he criticizes Mayor Nir Barkat for saying that he chooses to ignore the problem and not to discuss it.

"Minister Elkin, whom I greatly admire, is as anxious as we are for the future of Jerusalem, which is a very critical and dramatic problem, and we're not making an effort to deal with it. These are the two problems, governance and demography.These are problems that are not dealt with. The municipality also doesn't devise a plan or offer a solution, but only raises everything to the level of the Jerusalem law.

"Minister Elkin brings up the problem at the right time and place, and the solution that needs to come will come from a number of places, whether in this program or in another program proposed by ministers or other Knesset members. The problem is that the total deterioration of the Jerusalem situation will reach an intolerable level, leading to the de facto and de jure severance of Jerusalem from the rest of the country. Already there is large leakage of Jews from the city and an Arab counter-infiltration into the city, Arabs who are building illegally and altering the demographic balance of the city. If we don't deal with the problem with one of the programs suggested, we'll find ourselves with a divided Jerusalem. The municipality is not coping properly and Minister Elkin did well to elucidate the problem and provoke us all to deal with it."

Kalmanovich adds: "Everyone deals only with construction. Last week, I protested against the small number of housing units for Jews while there are thousands of Arab housing units that are being built illegally. The Minister wants to deal with it with open eyes. The problem is that we are all asleep; we don't want to cope and find solutions.

"We have to recognize that there is a dramatic and critical problem that is not solved, and whoever urges people to discuss the problem and find solutions for it is doing a good thing, because Jerusalem is on the verge of total deterioration in many areas, and I can testify that the municipality isn't dealing with these problems."

Jerusalem demographic map
Jerusalem demographic map

Kalmanovitch goes on to say that attempts to get the Mayor to discuss the matter are rejected."I have tried to raise the issue for discussion in the city council, but for some reason the mayor isn't interested in discussing the problem, so I am surprised that the Minister and other Ministers are interested in discussing this, while no statement comes from the Jerusalem municipality as our public representatives in this city. It's strange."

When asked why he does not call the mayor to clarify his position on the issue, Kalmanovich says that he does so but is not answered."I turned to them, I sent letters, but they don't want to discuss the problem. Everyone thinks if we don't see the Arabs they don't exist, that if we close ourselves up in the center of the city there are no Arabs in Hizma and Kafr 'Aqeb, as if they are transparent.This is terrible and those who try to bring attention to the problem are doing a good thing."