Police probe threats to Barkat's life

Shas city council rep resigns over Carta parking lot; National Religious Party backs mayor's decision.

Barkat press conference 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Barkat press conference 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Jerusalem police said late Sunday that they were investigating who sent two threatening e-mails to the office of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. The veiled threats against the mayor came a day after the second weekend of haredi rioting in Jerusalem over the opening of a parking lot on Saturdays to accommodate visitors to the Old City. Barkat's associates said Sunday that they expect the violent protests to die down in the coming weeks. "I believe that next week it will be quieter, and then slowly, slowly the protests will peter out completely," said Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahlon, a member of Barkat's Jerusalem Will Succeed Party, who is closely allied with the mayor. He noted that the crux of this weekend's protests were peaceful prayer vigils, adding that the violence was mostly perpetrated by youths who were ignoring the instructions they received from their rabbis. "We do not need to get over-excited by the protests that we saw this weekend," said fellow party member and city councilman Yakir Segev, noting that most of them were nonviolent and that the violence was carried out by fringe haredi elements. Segev asserted that most of the public - even the haredi public - understands that the parking lot was opened to meet a security need, as demanded by police. "We will not let extremists dictate the future of Jerusalem," he said. Barkat declined comment on the controversy on Sunday. His spokesman said that the issue was no longer on his daily agenda, and that he was tending to educational and other city issues on Sunday. "The mayor made a principled decision for the safety of the public," Barkat spokesman Evyatar Elad said. "I believe that this whole dispute will soon be behind us," said Rachel Azariyeh of the Hitorerut Party. "It is not easy for the haredim to have lost power, but nonetheless, the parking lot will remain open." "As an observant person, I believe in keeping Shabbat but I can understand the mayor's position," said city councilman David Hadari of the National Religious Party. "We need to live side by side, religious, secular and haredim in peace."