Jerusalem Mayor Rejects British PM’s Blasting Israel Over ‘Encircled, Occupied’ Eastern Part of City
The mayor of Jerusalem rejected the British prime minister’s harsh criticism of Israel over construction in the eastern part of the Holy City, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
Mayor Nir Barkat took issue with remarks made Wednesday PM David Cameron, who — during a weekly question-and-answer session at the British Parliament – said, “I am well known for being a strong friend of Israel, but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what had happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem, occupied East Jerusalem, it is genuinely shocking.”
Barkat responded on Thursday by asserting that most of the Arab residents of Jerusalem prefer the city to remain unified. He also noted that their situation is better than that of the residents of the Palestinian Authority and of the citizens of most Arab states.
According to Israel Radio, Barkat extended an invitation to Cameron to accompany him on a tour of east Jerusalem, to see for himself the modern schools, maternal health centers and roads that have been built there since his last visit.
Jerusalem, which Cameron does not dispute is the capital of Israel, was unified after the eastern part of the city was annexed following the Six Day War in 1967. The Palestinian Authority claims it as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The international community has frequently called Israel to task for construction in Jerusalem neighborhoods it deems contentious and an integral part of negotiations leading to a two-state solution.