Jerusalem will never be divided: City mayor

The mayor of Jerusalem, a rising star in Israeli politics, vowed that the city would never be divided to allow the eastern side to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Updated: Jan 11, 2011, 18:34 PM IST

New York: The mayor of Jerusalem, a rising
star in Israeli politics, vowed that the city would never be
divided to allow the eastern side to become the capital of a
future Palestinian state.

"It`s not going to happen, it`s not natural, it`s the
wrong thing to do from any perspective," mayor Nir Barkat said
yesterday during a visit to New York.

Barkat also joined government rejections of international
criticism of an historic east Jerusalem hotel to make way for
settler homes.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton have both strongly condemned the demolition of the
Shepherd`s Hotel. Ban said the action would "heighten
tensions."

But Barkat called their comments "shallow" and said they
should visit Jerusalem before speaking out.

The demolition of the hotel on Sunday to make way for
luxury apartments for Jewish settlers in occupied East
Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of any
future independent state.

"Not only for the Jewish people, but for the world, it
would be a big mistake to go that route, in advance we know
that there is not one example of a working model of a split
city," Barkat told a group of reporters. "Therefore it is not
on the table."

The mayor said the Shepherd`s Hotel was "owned legally,
by Jewish owners, they have asked to develop the land
according to the zoning code, with no extra demands or
requests. They have been granted permission like they would be
in any city, in any country in the world."

Palestinians have refused to take part in direct talks
with Israel since Israel ended a freeze on settlement building
in the occupied territories. But Barkat argued that "Arab
neighbours" could also get permits to build under Israeli law.

"Anybody trying to freeze by race -- its
anti-constitutional, it is double standards and it is not
acceptable," Barkat said.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said
the demolition of the hotel had "ended any possibility of a
return to (peace) negotiations."

Barkat, an independent, has been mayor of Jerusalem for
two years and has been tipped by analysts as a probable member
of a future right wing government.

PTI