The annual meetings of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrapped Thursday in Jerusalem with a tour led by the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat.
Responding to increasing international pressure to freeze construction in certain areas of the city, Barkat stressed during the tour that such moves would harm the interests of all residents of the city – including those living in the eastern portions of Jerusalem. “When we build, we are building for everyone, including infrastructural projects and school in East Jerusalem,” the mayor said while touring an overlook over the contested E1 zone.
Barkat also reiterated his position that the city should not be divided.”We need to look at the realities and recognized that no split city has ever worked – ideologically and practically Jerusalem cannot and will not be divided,” he was quoted as saying. The Mayor pointed to numerous ongoing initiatives to promote culture in the city and specifically to further encourage tourism which he anticipates will increase to 10 million people annually and add as many as 140,000 jobs in the coming years.
The delegation was led by Chairman of the Conference of Presidents, Richard Stone, its Executive Vice Chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein and Conference Past Chairman, Mort Zuckerman, who is chairing the 2013 delegation. The conference featured addresses from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky. Among the leaders addressing the group were Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni, Naftali Bennett, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, and other parliamentary, military and public figures.