Barkat: US demand 'slap in the face'

Capital’s mayor rejects calls for east J'lem construction freeze.

Barkat big face 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Barkat big face 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
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."
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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.