Israel’s capital can never be divided, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told a delegation of American Jewish leaders Thursday.
“We need to look at the realities and recognize that no split city has ever worked,” Barkat told delegates from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations during a guided tour of Jerusalem. “Ideologically and practically, Jerusalem cannot and will not be divided.”
The Conference of Presidents, currently holding its 39th annual convention in Jerusalem, is the central coordinating body representing 52 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.
The conference featured addresses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, among a host of other dignitaries.
Responding to increasing international pressure to freeze construction in East Jerusalem, Barkat said such moves would harm the interests of all Jerusalemites — including those living in the eastern portions of the city.
“When we build, we are building for everyone, including infrastructural projects and schools in East Jerusalem,” the mayor said while touring an overlook over the contested E1 zone.
Barkat pointed to ongoing initiatives to promote culture in the city and specifically to further encourage tourism which he anticipates will increase to 10 million people annually and add as many as 140,000 jobs in the coming years.