Let’s start by acknowledging the facts. Both Jerusalem’s current mayor and
myself care deeply about Jerusalem and want to do the job to the best of our
ability. Having worked closely with Nir Barkat for the past five years, I can
attest to his good intentions, and judging by the complimentary content of a
letter he sent to the prime minister saying that he had “full faith” in me
because of my “extraordinarily good work on behalf of the development of
Jerusalem,” he can attest to mine.
However, apart from the reversal of
the order of priorities for Jerusalem and its residents, meaning less champagne
events costing tens of millions and more investment in education, sanitation,
transportation and employment, the greatest differences between us are in our
In Jerusalem, perhaps more than any other city in
Israel, political outlook and worldview has a very great bearing on a mayor’s
activities and decisions.
Our beloved, eternal and indivisible capital
city is in danger.
While claiming to be in favor of a united and
sovereign Jerusalem, over the past five years, Jerusalem’s current mayor has
acted against these interests. Unbeknown to most, the extreme Left has been
allowed to gain control over east Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem municipal
portfolio for east Jerusalem is in the hands of none other than Meir Margalit, a
prominent member of Meretz, and was awarded to him by Barkat
While his name may not be familiar to many, Margalit, who openly
and proudly advocates a return to the pre- 1967 lines, is also a founder and
leading member of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
ICAHD, funded heavily by the European Union, is a prominent
member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the State of
Israel, participating in anti-Israel events across the globe, accusing Israel of
“ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “collective punishment,” and “apartheid.”
Furthermore, Margalit’s ICAHD cofounder, Jeff Halper, has said “I think it is
impossible to have a Jewish state.”
Margalit’s extreme positions are not
theoretical. In 2010, he and his Meretz cocouncilors signed a letter addressed
to Adidas executives calling on them to withdraw their sponsorship of the
Jerusalem Marathon because part of its route passed over the “Green
What was Barkat’s reaction to such a blatant attack on Israel’s
sovereignty? A few months later, Barkat handed Margalit responsibility for east
For the past few years, we have had the absurd situation of
the mayor investing power in someone who not only rejects Israeli sovereignty in
over half of the city, but is part of an international network working to
boycott our state.
This might seem strange behavior for a mayor who tries
to position himself as right wing. However, this is merely a political façade
maintained to garner votes.
Barkat has always been on the Left of the
political spectrum, and came as little surprise when, immediately after the Gaza
Disengagement in 2005, Barkat, at the behest of Ehud Olmert and Omri Sharon,
became the official Kadima representative in Jerusalem. While those expelled
from Gush Katif were left homeless and unable to restart their lives, Barkat was
busy lobbying on behalf of the party responsible for the Disengagement, claiming
that “Kadima is a worthy party to lead the country at this time.”
this concessionist attitude which is creating facts on the ground in Jerusalem
in a very worrying manner.
The number of demolitions of illegally built
houses in east Jerusalem has been dramatically reduced under the Barkat-Meretz
alliance. While Barkat seemingly supports the removal of Jews from their legal
homes, he appears to be far less sure about upholding the law and demolishing
illegal homes in the Arab sector, and thus provides encouragement for more and
more illegal Arab building, further upsetting the already delicate demographic
Furthermore, in 2011, during a speech at the National Defense
College, Barkat suggested a plan to divide Jerusalem and give parts of it to the
The plan was lauded by the extreme Left, and in
particular by Oslo-architect Yossi Beilin, who wrote a whole article
congratulating Barkat on coming clean on his views to divide
Under Barkat’s tenure, the Arabs of east Jerusalem – who
according to polls wish to remain under Israeli sovereignty – have become
infiltrated by the PA and other extremist organizations, which have gained a
stronger foothold in the city in recent years.
In 2011, according to
, Barkat met with a group of radical Islamists dedicated to Israel’s
destruction, including the brother of a terrorist involved in the Mercaz HaRav
massacre in which eight yeshiva students were killed. This was against the
advice of the Shin Bet and the Jerusalem Police, who made their concerns known
to Barkat’s office before the meeting.
These are just some of the many
ways in which Jerusalem is being changed, a situation which should be of deep
concern to all those who care about our beloved capital city.
also seemingly why Meretz, and Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich, are
strongly endorsing Barkat for another term.
For there to be change in
this policy, Jerusalem needs to be led by someone with strong roots in the
national camp, which is solidly behind me and has given me its strongest
I know what needs to be done to return Jerusalem from the
dangerous course it has taken in the last five years.
This is why, as one
of my first acts as mayor, I will immediately strip Meretz of its control over
east Jerusalem and give that portfolio to someone with a clear Zionist vision,
who has no qualms about Israel’s control over every inch of Jerusalem. I will
not give power to those who want to relinquish Jerusalem, meet with terrorist
sympathizers or talk about conceding land in our capital city to the
This is the clear difference between Barkat and myself.
choice is clear: vote for Barkat and his Meretz partners, and another five years
of the creeping disengagement from Jerusalem, or together we can make the
sweeping changes necessary to maintain the unity of Jerusalem under full and
unequivocal Israeli sovereignty.The writer is the Jerusalem mayoral
candidate for Likud Beytenu and the former chairman of the Jerusalem Development