Jerusalem mayor rejects peace talks
Sep 3, 2013 / 1:06 pm
Jerusalem's mayor presides over perhaps the most complicated city in the world: deeply divided between Arab and Jew, religious and secular, rich and poor, and claimed as a capital by both Israelis and Palestinians.
But Nir Barkat, a successful former high-tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, told The Associated Press that Jerusalem is thriving like never before and in a re-election pledge insists the key to success is keeping its various fragments united.
With peace negotiators discussing the potential future partition of Jerusalem, Barkat emphatically says the city can't be split and urges negotiators meeting in Jerusalem Tuesday to take any such talk off the table.
"It will never function, it will never work. It is a bad deal," he said during an interview in his office at City Hall. "Doing a bad deal is worse than no deal."
Jerusalem is Israel's largest city and its 800,000 residents are split almost evenly among secular and modern Orthodox residents, Muslim Palestinians and ultra-Orthodox Jews. The Arab population lives almost entirely in east Jerusalem, the sector captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.
Elected in 2008, in a victory seen as a backlash against ultra-Orthodox control of the city, Barkat claims to have stopped the exodus of tens of thousands of secular Jerusalemites, invigorated cultural life in the city and improved quality of life for the city's Arabs. But it remains one of the poorest cities in Israel.
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