Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat expressed support on Monday for the Israeli government’s plan to build 3,000 additional housing units in the E1 section between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, Israel Hayom reported. The decision came as a response to the recent upgrade of Palestinian status at the United Nations to nonmember observer state.
Speaking in Herzliya at a conference on the subject of affordable housing, Barkat told the audience: “We need to connect the E1 area to Jerusalem without any reservations at all, even with the world pressuring us not to do so. I certainly back the prime minister’s position on this. I don’t know of any city in the world whose regulator is the U.S. president.”
Reacting to Israel’s new construction plans, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said, “let me reiterate that this administration—like previous administrations—has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”
Barkat said he was surprised by the European reaction to the Israeli government’s announcement. The UK, France and Sweden had summoned the Israeli ambassadors in London, Paris and Stockholm to explain their government’s position on the Jewish state’s decision.
“When the world talks about a freeze in Jerusalem, I ask, a freeze on what? On the billions we invest in east Jerusalem? Should we stop construction for Arabs, Christians or Jews? Or does someone mean that when an entrepreneur approaches me, I should, heaven forbid, ask him what religion he subscribes to so he can receive a permit to build in Jerusalem? That would be horrendous and it negates even U.S. law,” he said.