Mayor Insists Jerusalem Settlements Will 'Continue With Full Force'

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat rejected White House criticism of building housing in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.

“I say this firmly and clearly: Building in Jerusalem is not poisonous and harmful – rather, it is essential, important and will continue with full force,” Barkat said Thursday in a statement. “I will not freeze construction for anyone in Israel’s capital. Discrimination based on religion, race or gender is illegal in the United States and in any other civilized country.”

A day earlier, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that a plan that was granted final approval in December 2012 for the construction of 2,610 housing units in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood would “poison the atmosphere” and distance Israel from “even its closest allies.”

Barkat said the apartments there “will enable more young people from all sectors and religions to live in Jerusalem and build their future here, thereby strengthening the capital of Israel. We will not apologize for that. ”

The plan was published last week, allowing for tenders to be issued and construction to start. It was publicized Wednesday by Peace Now two hours before a scheduled meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama.

Following the meeting, Netanyahu slammed Peace Now for its timing in releasing the news, calling it “irresponsible” and saying the activist NGO had timed the statement to harm his talks with Obama.

Netanyahu also rejected the criticism, saying the White House should make sure it understands the situation properly “before deciding to take a position like that.”

Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer said, “Netanyahu has only himself to blame. He is responsible for authorizing building in sensitive areas. The prime minister should reserve for himself and his ministers his frustration over the destructive impact of his policies on Israel foreign relations.”

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Mayor Insists Jerusalem Settlements Will 'Continue With Full Force'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close