June 24, 2010

Mr. Ban Ki-moon


United Nations

New York, NY 10017


Dear Secretary-General,

I, as the Mayor of Jerusalem, am committed to improving the quality of life of all residents of Jerusalem and decided from the moment I took office not to just talk about the plight of the Arab residents of Jerusalem. Rather, I decided to invest my time and the city’s resources into bringing proper planning, modern infrastructure, and new businesses to Arab neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem. I am renovating schools and community centers and bringing technology to classrooms throughout the entire city. I am creating jobs and improving the quality of life for all residents of the city.

It was with great dismay that I read your response to the Municipality of Jerusalem’s re-zoning plans for the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and the King’s Garden, areas that were never planned for residential use and lie just hundreds of meters from the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock. Indeed, the re-zoning that we have put forward improves the quality of life of thousands of Arab residents of Jerusalem by providing

them for the first time with proper sewage, drainage, electricity, roads, telephone lines, Internet, and other infrastructure. Further, my plan gives the Municipality the ability to legalize hundreds of Arab homes built without permits, some of them on public lands with complete disregard to public safety codes, endangering the lives of the residents, and making Municipal services difficult to provide, while at the same time allowing for a thousand new apartments to be built legally in the neighborhood for the Arab residents. Our new plans ensure the inhabitants of the area have the ability to live legally. The new plans include a three thousand square meter community center that the Municipality designed in partnership with the residents of Silwan that, with funding from the UN, could have an enormous impact on the residents of Silwan. The Municipality has spent the past year preparing these plans because they are the right thing to do. I am committed to improving the quality of life of all residents of Jerusalem – whether they voted for me, against me, or not at all.

Your response revealed a clear lack of understanding by the UN of our initiatives. Your office failed to ask pointed questions about the re-zoning, to request to see the plans, or even seek a basic understanding of my goals for the residents of Jerusalem. It is much easier to talk and criticize, than it is to learn, invest, or act. Unfortunately, the UN has never asked the Municipality of Jerusalem what it could be doing to improve the quality of life of the residents of Jerusalem.

It would be my honor to host you in Jerusalem or meet with you in your offices in New York so I can share with you our plans for opening up the city for the world to enjoy and improving the quality of life of all the residents, as well as the plans for the Silwan and King’s Garden neighborhoods.

If the UN was committed to promoting social progress and better standards of life, it could begin to translate that commitment into positive actions right here in Jerusalem in partnership with the Municipality of Jerusalem.

Warm Regards from Jerusalem,

Nir Barkat

Mayor of Jerusalem


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