Likud MK Nir Barkat today toured Kfar haShiloah and Kfar HaTemanim and visited the tomb of Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura, the Beit Ovadia, Beit Frumkin, the ancient Ohel Shlomo synagogue in Kfar HaShiloah and Beit Yehonatan.
Gadi Bashari, chairman of the Kfar Hashiloach Public Council, Dr. Yigal Ben Shalom, chairman of the Yemeni Heritage Development Council, and Matti Dan, chairman of the Ateret Cohanim Association, also participated in the tour with Barkat.
Barkat said that the desire that motivated him to serve as a public figure was driven by the desire to restore the glory of ancient Jerusalem, "to restore Old Jerusalem and upgrade the status of Jerusalem as the Holy City, as a center of pilgrimage to all peoples, without exception, and certainly to be proud we are Jews."
He went on to talk about the struggle he embarked on years ago to populate Beit Yehonatan. Barkat said that after a tour of the area, he became convinced of the need for the activities of the Ateret Cohanim and Elad organizations, so there was talk of 657 buildings on the eastern ridge of Silwan, only seven with a license, that is, one percent, and the then Attorney General decided that he was going to seal Beit Yehonatan because it was above the two floors allowed by the master plan.
Barkat called on the tour participants to look around and see that all the buildings in the area were above standard, "So why Beit Yehonatan? 'Do not interfere, it is our consideration as legal advisors', he replied, and I told him, 'I, as mayor of Jerusalem, want to understand why Jews are not allowed to live in Silwan?' Jews are allowed anywhere in the world, certainly in the place in Jerusalem where our ancestors lived 200 years ago, and almost 100 years ago in Kfar HaTemanim."
Barkat went on to say, "I was forced to fight a world war against a legal advisor who mixed his ideology into his judgment. We know that today he's a member of the city council on the Left and we knew his views even then. I was stubborn, including getting three reprimands from the Attorney General, but I wouldn't move. And after the legal advisor in the Jerusalem municipality was replaced and Amnon Merhav replaced Havilav, suddenly everything worked out. The whole legal system straightened out.
"It was one of the more complex struggles. A lot of people told me, 'If you fight the legal system, you risk your job.' I said it does not interest me. I come to serve the State of Israel and the people of Israel, I go with my inner justice. Thank G-d we passed a new master plan that is still waiting in the district that allows building up four floors here, which came to regulate construction for Jews and non-Jews alike," he added.