Less than a day after he overpowered an armed Palestinian terrorist on a stabbing rampage, Jerusalem’s high-octane Mayor Nir Barkat officially endorsed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday for his March reelection bid.
Barkat praised Netanyahu during a joint press conference for upping security measures in and around the capital, while remaining unequivocally steadfast in standing against international pressure to divide the city.
“I support you and I want to see you continuing to fulfill your job as prime minister for many years to come, for the sake of Jerusalem and the state of Israel,” Barkat said to the prime minister.
“You’ve proven through actions throughout your term in office that Jerusalem sits at the top of your priorities list. I want to thank you for your deep commitment to the [city’s] security,” added the mayor.
Barkat was seen as a possible Jerusalem affairs minister in the next government, but Netanyahu said Monday he would keep the portfolio in his own hands if reelected, Haaretz reported.
Barkat made headlines Sunday for apprehending a knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist, who stabbed and moderately wounded an ultra-Orthodox man in his 20s close to Jerusalem City Hall. The mayor happened to be in the area — and together with a security guard, pounced on and neutralized the attacker.
“Terror is not just Jerusalem’s problem, it’s a global problem. We have to take steps against terrorism in Paris, New York, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and anywhere else,” Barkat said.
“Jerusalem is at the forefront of developing [citywide] counterterrorism tactics. To my great joy, there has been a substantial decrease in the volume of rioting [and attacks in the predominantly Arab, eastern half of the city],” he added.
Netanyahu responded in kind, lauded Barkat for his quick thinking and noted that the reduced rate of terror attacks in the capital is indicative of a preventative policy of arming civilians on the streets of Jerusalem.
The prime minister also took a swipe at political rival and Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni, and accused her of bowing to pressure and working towards a deal with the Palestinian Authority that may see the eastern half of the city appended to a future Palestinian state.
“Livni recently said she would negotiate on Jerusalem and even condemned building in neighborhoods throughout the capital as irresponsible. I think that says it all,” Netanyahu said.
“We, however, believe in a united, strong, developed and developing Jerusalem forever under the control of people of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu also took heat from the right on Monday, as Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman accused him of being unable to handle Hamas, let alone the Iranian threat.