Jerusalem Mayor Barkat’s Arab Building Spree Exposed

September 15, 2014  

Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King on Sunday exposed how Mayor Nir Barkat in a two week period has given the green light on numerous Arab building projects while ignoring illegal Arab construction – a fact he warns threatens the demographics of the Israeli capital.

In the past three months Barkat’s administration has not demolished a single illegal Arab building, King exposed on his Facebook page on Sunday. He added that the rate of illegal Arab construction in eastern Jerusalem stands at a staggering 50 housing units per month.

King detailed several construction related moves taken by Barkat in a two-week period to illustrate what he describes as a clear and present danger to the Jewish nature of Jerusalem, particularly in the eastern part of the city which is home to 200,000 Jews and 230,000 Arabs.

On September 3, King says Barkat “pressured the hareidi (Planning) Committee members” to approve building plans for 2,500 housing units in Al-Sawahira Al-Gharbiyya, located near the East Talpiyot neighborhood. King was dismissed by Barkat from his coalition posts for petitioning the project, which he said contradicted earlier agreements and threatened the city’s delicate demographic balance.

Then last Friday, King notes that in the Jerusalem paper Kol Ha’ir ten Arab building projects, as opposed to six Jewish projects, were published, including a total of over 300 housing units for Arab residents.

Rounding out the Arab housing push, King noted this Wednesday the Planning Committee, headed by Kobi Kahlon of Barkat’s party, is set to discuss no less than ten new Arab building projects in Jerusalem.

At the same meeting project 197210 will be discussed, which King exposed would allocate public land for “a building 14 meters (46 feet) high on Har Tzion, a prayer and study house for the Baptist Church adjacent to King David’s Tomb.”

It was revealed in early July in a Knesset Interior Committee meeting that Christians received permission to hold fixed prayers in the David’s Tomb Compound in a secret deal, breaching the status quo of the site and endangering Jewish prayer rights.

“Barkat together with the Israeli government is continuing to lead to the de facto division of Jerusalem,” warned King, in a stark summary of the evidence he provided.

“Who are you really, Barkat?”

In light of the recent developments, King has set out to oppose the Arab building push and is forming an unofficial coalition to do so.

On Monday, King met with Rabbi Shalom Cohen, head of the Shas party Council of Torah Sages, in an effort to gain hareidi support in stopping the plan for 2,500 housing units in Al-Sawahira Al-Gharbiyya.

Rabbi Cohen was very supportive of King’s opposition to the plan, according to the Councilman, and further called to unite the hareidi factions to oppose the projects in Planning Committee meetings, such as the one on Wednesday.

“It seems that now everything depends on the hareidi parties who together with Aryeh King, (Deputy Mayor Dov) Kalmanovich, (Councilman and former mayoral candidate Moshe) Leon and Shas will reach the needed majority to reject the Al-Sawahira project,” said King.

The meeting with the rabbi comes after King on Sunday announced a new campaign called “Who are you really, Barkat?”, which specifically will aim to raise awareness in the religious-Zionist community of the dangers King says Barkat poses to the capital.

The campaign targets that community in particular because of the wide support Barkat has enjoyed from religious-Zionist rabbis, which enabled him to be re-elected last year.

Dismissing King, not dismissing leftists?

Regarding King’s dismissal from his coalition posts for petitioning a plan announced by the Municipality, it has been noted that in an exact parallel case of petitioning the Municipality Barkat did not dismiss the offending councilman – according to King, because in that case the petition was made by leftists.

After the High Court rejected a move to have the new Jerusalem movie theater Cinema City be open on Shabbat in violation of the status quo for businesses, Councilman Ofer Berkovich of the Hitorerut party petitioned the judgement.

In the coming days the High Court is to discuss the petition, which seeks to force the Municipality to discuss the issue of keeping the theater open in violation of the Shabbat.

Councilmen from the hareidi parties have turned to Barkat over the petition in a request to dismiss Berkovich from his coalition posts as was done against King, since Berkovich petitioned against the Municipality in violation of the coalition agreement.

Discussing the issue on Facebook, King commented “a tale of two parties that submitted administrative petitions against the same mayor. The mayor negates the authority of some of them (right-wingers and religious), and the mayor leaves the authority of some (the leftists and seculars).”

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