Barkat Orders Demolition of Arab Buildings to Make Way for Highway

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A cluster of high-rise apartment buildings illegally built in an Arab neighborhood of Yerushalayim are slated to come down in a series of huge explosions at the order of mayor Nir Barkat, Arutz Sheva reported on Sunday night.

The six buildings, each six stories high, stand in the village of Kafr Aqab, inside the city limits, but outside the security barrier, and generally a no-go zone for Israeli police and government workers.

The area is reportedly rife with building violations, which are generally ignored by the municipality. However, Barkat has decided to make an exception in this case.

A spokesperson from the mayor’s office stated that “The demolition orders were issued months ago against [the buildings] which had been built illegally and without building permits and which had no residents [when the orders were issued] and which today are still largely empty. Time and again, the courts, including the Jerusalem District Court and the Israeli Supreme Court, issued [demolition] orders.”

According to the mayor’s office, the demolitions will pave the way for a new highway.

“Demolition of the illegal buildings will enable the City of Jerusalem to pave a highway, improving the lives of tens of thousands of residents. The new road is absolutely necessary, and it will benefit all of the residents of Kafr Aqab.”

At least one coalition member, however, condemned the plan, calling it a political ploy to gain support from the right. MK Rachel Azariya (Kulanu), a former Yerushalayim city council member, accused the mayor of political motivations.

“Nir Barkat has been mayor for nine years, and nothing like this was ever done,” she said.

“He knows that he is playing with fire by pursuing this. No one argues with the fact that illegal construction is a problem that must be dealt with, especially in eastern Yerushalayim. But a show of force like this will lead to a dangerous confrontation,” she warned.