U.N. Vote

Nir Barkat, Jerusalem Mayor, Says World Should Leave His City Alone

The city works for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike and does not need world intervention, says Nir Barkat.

Sebastian Scheiner / AP Photo

Today, Jerusalem should be and certainly is heading in the right direction. Our economy is booming, our education system is leading the country in reforms, and Christians, Jews, and Muslims work together, conduct business and trade together, live together, and enjoy the freedom of movement better than ever before.

Jerusalem is an open city for the 3.5 billion people of faith around the world to come visit and then return home as ambassadors of peace. Indeed, Jerusalem has become a top destination for global tourism. In 2010, tourism increased by 24 percent and the trends continue this year.

We are experiencing a renaissance in culture and creating new opportunities for young adults—from all sectors of society. We have a new light-rail train that is making the city more accessible and reducing pollution. It links residential neighborhoods to areas of commerce, elementary schools to tourist attractions and cultural institutions, and soon, to our hospitals.

The municipality of Jerusalem is working in cooperation with community leaders in the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities and investing millions of dollars to close gaps in infrastructure, education, and community services in Arab and ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

Jerusalem’s hospitals and health-care clinics are excellent examples of coexistence. They attract patients from all different backgrounds, all parts of Jerusalem, all parts of Israel, and all corners of the world. Moreover, despite what you may see on the news, Jerusalem is one of the safest cities in the world, far safer than America’s major cities!

Most important, we protect everyone’s freedoms and rights. People of all faiths can practice their beliefs wherever and however they want, with the only exception being Jews who are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount out of Israeli respect for the status-quo arrangements. Today, under the flag of the state of Israel, women in Jerusalem and throughout the entire country have full and equal rights.

In the current Jerusalem City Council coalition, 30 out of 31 members from nine different political parties cooperate under one charter to develop Jerusalem for the benefit of the residents and to open it up for the world to enjoy. We are men and women, secular and religious, left-wingers and right-wingers, all working together to improve Jerusalem for future generations.

While public opinion varies throughout the world, public opinion of the majority of residents of Jerusalem—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish alike—is clear: Jerusalem must stay a united, undivided capital under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is one city, the capital of the state of Israel, the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and a city holy to people from different faiths around the world. That is the way it is and that is the way it should be forever. Therefore I say: leave Jerusalem alone.