Nir Barkat once again rejected demands for a freeze on Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, with the capital’s mayor describing the US stance on the issue as a "slap in the face."
“No, absolutely not,” said Barkat Tuesday night when asked about US President Barack Obama’s demand for a building freeze.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Barkat also denied reports of a de facto freeze in east Jerusalem
, saying they were “simply not true."RELATED:Capital braces for Beit Yehonatan evacuation
He stressed that there had only been a temporary freeze in the wake of tensions with the US over the approval of an additional 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel last month.
“One cannot stop the growth of a vibrant city which is so full of life, particularly not Jerusalem,” he said. “If you do that, then the Jews will leave and the Arabs will build illegally. It takes time to recover from an attack by an ally such as the US, but I believe that the tensions are now behind us."
“There are more buildings being built right now,” he said. “In a place
like Jerusalem, we need to build for both Jews and Arabs. If we give the
Palestinians any hold at all on the city, it will be a Trojan Horse for
the Jews in Jerusalem.”
He said he intended to preserve the
demographic balance in the capital.
Barkat is visiting the US
with Defense Minister Ehud Barak
, and was expected to meet State
Department officials later Wednesday.