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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Wednesday's Connector: Nir Barkat

March 19th, 2010
06:57 PM ET

Israel's mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is charged with running arguably the world’s most contentious and disputed city.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/19/jerusa.blog.jpg
caption="What would you ask the Mayor of Jerusalem?"]

A father of three and former paratrooper, Barkat suspended his extensive portfolio of interests in high-tech business to enter politics in 2003.

Following his election as mayor in November 2008, Barkat was the hope of the city’s secular Jewish community and a change from the Jewish orthodox leadership of his predecessor, Rabbi Uri Lupolianski.

Barkat inherited a city with a number of problems. Jerusalem is one of the region's poorest cities, and faces a range of other problems: job shortages, soaring house prices, not to mention ongoing religious tensions over sites such as the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Further to this, Jerusalem’s role as Israel’s capital is disputed by some countries, while the status of east Jerusalem in any peace agreement with the Palestinians is increasingly contentious.

Jerusalem’s status in any peace negotiations with the Palestinians has been an ongoing source of controversy.

He left the centrist Kadima party over their willingness to include Jerusalem in any negotiations and has continued to declare his desire to build more Jewish homes in Palestinian and Israeli-Arab areas in the east of the city, occupied by Israel in 1967.

This is your chance to put a question to Nir Barkat - a man with the potential to play a crucial role in the Middle East peace process.

Please leave your questions below and be sure to include where you're writing from.

soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Nir Barkat and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Nir Barkat to the following questions:
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – What is your opinion on Child Abuse in the Catholic Churches Worldwide?
    – How will you as the mayor of Jerusalem create More Unity between the people of Jerusalem, the Palestinians and Other People Outside Jerusalem?
    – How are you as the mayor of Jerusalem going to Create More Jobs to Boast the Economy?
    – How are you as the mayor of Jerusalem going Stop Consumer Fraud, Domestic Violence and Other Crimes?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Nir Barkat’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    March 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Reply
  2. Husam Bajis

    Dear Mayor,

    Considering that Jerusalem is one of Israel's poorest cities – what has been your plan to improve the situation, to create jobs?

    Husam Bajis from Jerusalem

    March 20, 2010 at 11:40 am | Reply
  3. Aminu Abdullahi from Nigeria

    When israel will accept the fate and allow peace to rain between israel and palestines.?

    March 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  4. Christopher Sortman

    Dear Mayor,

    Since the temple mount is supposed to be a house of prayer for all peoples, will you support legislation that takes control away from muslims who refuse to allow anyone to pray there?

    You have HaShem as your only worthwhile ally in this.

    Christopher Sortman

    March 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  5. Michael Owen

    What are you doing with Sheikh Jarrah?

    March 21, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  6. Zack Sabella from Jerusalem

    Will you allow Palestinian and Arab Christians to worship freely in the Old City during the Easter Holiday?

    I have personally tried to enter to the Holy Sepulcher three years in a row on Holy Fire Saturday and was prevented entrance by Israeli police manning checkpoints at the gates of the Old City. What measures are you taking to allow freedom of worship in Jerusalem?

    March 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  7. Mark Cheruns

    Dear Mr. Barkat,

    1) If the situation the palestinians find themselves in today (Under Occupation West Bank, State Arrest in Gaza) was the other way around; and it was the Israeli people gatherd in one area cut off from food and aid because of the actions of a few jewish extreemists would you still hold the views you hold about the need for the Israeli "Crack Down" and the actions taken in Gaza?

    2) If a jewish man dies defending Israel we call him a hero, yet if a palestinian dies defending his land (Palestine), then we call him a terrorist, why do you feel there is a diffrence in the publics view of this matter?

    *** In a seperate note I would love for CNN for just once to invistigate something that can actually change the world , such as the Rothschild Family ties to Israel, Banking, and Arms companies.

    Thanks for your time CNN, have a great day everyone!

    Phil and Mark Cheruns,
    San Antonio, Texas
    Currently: Working in Bahrain and the gulf region.

    March 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  8. susan Kilgore

    All of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Please don't forget this.

    March 21, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  9. Dof of Temple

    How do you feel about Jerusalem becoming an independant state of holiness? It would neither be property of Israel nor Palestine, nor any greedy or emotional clan, but rather a world special place of peace and non violence...

    March 21, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  10. BaffaMustapha

    Let me try to be brief as i can:
    1.Does Israel take the views of the US into consideration when its comes to Palestinian issues?
    2.What in your view is the best plan to stay united and safe in Jerusalem?

    March 21, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  11. Jay

    Why do you think that Israel should control all of Jerusalem despite the United Nations condemning Israeli control over Jerusalem since Israel used military force to take it over?

    Denver, Colorado

    March 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  12. randai

    even the lord says jerusalem is for isreal. so nobody can denied them on this earth.

    March 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  13. Megh

    Mr. Barkat,
    As the mayor of such a contested city, how are you promoting peace and equality for all Jerusalem's population?
    What is your explanation for continuing to occupy all of Jerusalem and for continuing to work against peace between the Israelis and Palestinians? How will Jerusalem ever have peace and the chance to prosper if even the mayor doesn't see all the city's citizens as having equal rights?
    From your point of view, does the Israeli government really believe that oppressing the Palestinian people is in the best interest of anyone? Does Israel really think this policy of destroying an entire people through illegal seizure and destruction of property, treatment as less than second class citizens, imprisonment, starvation and murder is anything but systemized genocide?
    The Holy Land does not belong to Israel. The Israeli people certainly have a right to their own safe homeland, but not at the expense of annihilating another people's homeland. This current problem has many causes but only one solution-share the land. Make room for the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is very difficult to believe that any religion's 'God' would condone this treatment of any human being.

    March 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  14. karim

    Do you know your first commandment?

    March 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Reply
  15. ELISHA

    Dear Mr. Mayor,
    In the face of the threats that your country faces. I just want you to know that you have my support as far as your right to exist goes.
    Stay strong nad fight on.

    But be considerate for the sake of peace.


    March 21, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  16. Mahmoud

    I would like to slightly adjust Karim's question : Do you know your 6th and your 8th commandments?

    March 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  17. Mimi Keizer

    as an inhabitant of you city and seeing the Gan Sacher so dirty because of two things:
    a) people think others have to clean after them
    b) because the trash cans don't have lids and the crows pick the garbage out of the bins and from the plastic bags.
    Is there really nothing to be done?
    I have NO criticism whatsoever on the cleaning men who work hard and do a wonderful job.

    March 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  18. William Marlowe

    Mr. Mayor:

    What do you think of the idea for the United Nations to recognize Jerusalem as sovereign international city nation state similar to the Vatican City in Rome in an effort to make Jerusalem a safe neutral zone and thereby removing it as a stumbling block from the Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

    William Marlowe

    March 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  19. Anthony Smith

    How can Israel continue to live comfortably with this ongoing dispute/.Why not give the Palistinians the West Bank,Gaza and some of Jerusalem so they stop looking like the Germans did in ww2?.Dont Jews like peace?.Did they try to unreasonably assert themselve in pre-ww2 Germany.

    March 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  20. W. E. Gutman

    Do you foresee a time when the rabbis' stranglehold on secular Israel can be loosened and French-style radical separation of church and state can be instituted?
    W. E. Gutman
    Los Angeles, California

    March 21, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  21. James Rogers

    Hi Mr Nir Barakat,

    How does it feel to be the mayor of one of the world's last colonial entities?

    March 21, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  22. s. portnoy

    I have one request to make: Please keep Jerusalem SECULAR. Is it possible? What are your plans?

    March 21, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  23. Christopher Lee

    In my opinion Isreal has NO right to suggest that the palestinians cannot live in the gaza strip or coexist in the same region.

    Should we remind the isrealies that they were PUT THERE after the second world war as refugeas by the UN

    ever since they have settled claiming the land as their own

    Is this fair on the palastinians?

    Is it?

    March 21, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  24. emeka u.s.a

    my opinion is that isreal should for no reason concede any part of jerusalem to the palestineans.this is b/c,from biblical history,jerusalem has always been the capital of isreal and king David even ruled from there.during His rule ,the whole part of Jerusalem was under him and there was no question of East,West,North and South Jerusalem.

    please,mayor,a stitch on time saves nine.the palestineans should look for a city within their supposed territory to use as their capital.my research even indicates that they are settlers in the area and do not have any stake in the land they presently occupy.

    March 21, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  25. Jonathan Kaplan

    How do you expect those of us who support Israel to justify the continued building of houses in the West Bank? What is the purpose of alienating the whole world?

    Sydney, Australia

    March 21, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  26. david brown

    any biblical references are invalid. the bible is a jewish book of course its going to favour jews over arabs. we must go by international law. anyone who distegards international law or any law, is a criminal by definition. israel must return to the 67 border and out of east jurusalem. otherwise they must be defined as criminals

    March 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  27. Micol

    Dear Nir,

    as an Israeli from Jerusalem living in Europe, I see the bad press Israel and Jerusalem issues often get (including here on CNN). It's hard for me not only because I am attached to my city, but also because I listen to Israeli news and so I know "the whole truth", which many here don't. How would you propose for Israel and Jerusalem issues to get a better and more balanced PR in foreign press?

    Micol from Belgium (but really Jerusalem) (and Hi to Ariel P from me 🙂 )

    March 22, 2010 at 12:11 am | Reply
  28. Dr. Sharon A. Thomas from United States

    I have always wondered why the sacred sites in East Jerusalem could not be a separate international zone or even a separate country. Historically, the sites are significant to all the Abrahamic religions. With neutral governance for these sites with a board of representatives from Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious leaders, why is it assumed this would not work? What moral grounds are there for not equally sharing the responsibility for preserving these sites for all future generations of ethnicities and religions?

    March 22, 2010 at 1:02 am | Reply
  29. Yaronn Libne

    Hello Nir Barqat. Do you think that any territory that is included in the administrative unit called "Jerusalem" must necessarily be part of Israel's "eternal capital" and must not be divided? Do you think that if we annex more areas into this "city", those areas will be part of this same holy thing? Can we decide that the whole country is called "Zion" and should not be divided? Informatively asking, I don't know your view of this.

    Yaronn Libne, northern Israel.

    March 22, 2010 at 5:20 am | Reply
  30. Troy Frost from Montana

    I have a list of questions to the Israeli Mayor:

    – How does it feel when you sign a municipal order to demolish an Arab house?
    – Why is the demolition of houses always a first choice for the Israeli municipality? Why can't you issue fines instead of kicking people out of their homes and destroying their memories.
    – Can Arabs expelled in 1948 from Jerusalem neighborhoods such as the Talbieh and Qatamon claim back their homes? Or is it only permissible for Jewish residents to claim back what is claimed to be their properties, such as the case in Sheikh Jarrah?
    – Why can't the Israeli government acknowledge that Jerusalem is for all peoples, all religions, all faiths, and therefore should not be solely managed by Israel.
    – How do you make a decision to change the landmarks of such a historic place by approving light rail and modernizing an ancient city? Have you consulted the Christian and Muslim world?

    March 22, 2010 at 6:32 am | Reply
  31. Steve

    Greetings Mr Barkat,

    Thank you, Mr Mayor, and CNN, for granting us this opportunity. Could you let us hear your opinions regarding these two questions?

    1. What do you foresee for Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East in 20, 50 and 100 years? Specifically, what do you believe is the likely outcome from the ongoing conflicts? If it's too difficult for you to say, could you briefly share with us the goals you will continue to pursue in your career and what you envision for the city and the region?

    2. If Jerusalem were to be made into an independent holy city, and you were still in charge of it, how far will you go to enforce its neutrality? What do you think will be the implications culturally and economically, both good and bad? What policies will you effect?

    Thank you very much for your time, and wish you all the best with the tough problems you face out there.


    March 22, 2010 at 7:33 am | Reply
  32. Penelope Wein

    What is the Jerusalem Municipalities specific policy and plans for the property of the Mamila cemetery ? What is the benefit (political, economic) of removing the remainder of this historical (as the Arab people consider it) cemetery? Has your office considered the potential cooperative benefits with the Arab population (and the international community representatives in Jerusalem) for a joint project to restore and properly maintain the site as a historical cemetery and location for a museum on Arab history and Arab-Jewish cooperation?

    As an American Jew in Jerusalem for aliyah I am struggling with the profound culturally ingrained racism that that I find within my Jewish community in the city. Is your office taking any steps to address this?

    March 22, 2010 at 7:59 am | Reply
  33. Jessica B.

    Shalom, Nir Barkat.

    How do you think peace will come around when [the majority of] Palestinians state that they won't recognise Israel as a country? When [the majority of] Palestinians demand all of Jerusalem as their capitol?

    I believe in a two-state solution, but I believe that is my optimism speaking. How do you think peace will be reached... if ever?

    Kind regards,
    [London, England]

    March 22, 2010 at 9:30 am | Reply
  34. Anne Ngobia

    The crisis that has existed in the Middle East has been as a result of the World rejecting the Bible as a word of God. This nation belongs to Israel. The borders are very clear. This was a promise made to them and no one can fool them. We are seeing that for the first time in history United States standing against Israel. This is the biggest mistake they are ever making. Israel being God's chosen nation, America success has always been guaranteed as long as they have defended them.
    Israel is God's time peace, watch them closely. They have to posses the last portion of their land. This is God's plan and its in order. God promised to give them victory over their enemies until they are all settled down and usher the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Anne Ngobia

    March 22, 2010 at 10:07 am | Reply
  35. Johnny Salib from Amman

    Responding to Anne Ngobia:

    Define Israel – Is it the country with its multi-religious composition, or is it only for the Jewish people? I somehow doubt the God prefers one people over the other, I doubt God as being a real estate agent drawing borders and lines. According to the teachings I have been subjected to, all of humanity is God's children, and there is no preference and no sides taken by the Almighty. Until we understand that and stop professing on which side God is, the Middle East conflict will never dissipate.

    March 22, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  36. abdullah umran ekinci

    Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and belongs to all Muslims what do you think? current settlement estabilishemnets would not make it an Jewish city what do u think?

    March 22, 2010 at 11:17 am | Reply
  37. ann

    How do you feel about people always claiming that they know exactly what God wants and promises? What do you think about making Jerusalem into a big Botanical Garden where everyone can plant trees and flowers instead of fighting over whose land it is? At least then that land might finally have a "promising" future.

    March 22, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  38. matt

    What word would you use to describe an event wherein palestinians plowed into Israel and killed 1450 people in one week? Would you call it a slaughter?

    March 22, 2010 at 11:28 am | Reply
  39. adebola olanipekun Lagos Nigeria

    Tough job, crucial to the peace of the world! Who would envy you?!

    March 22, 2010 at 11:29 am | Reply
  40. Stephanie P.

    Dear Mr Barkat,

    I am a Lebanese Christian and have suffered from the unease in the Middle East due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for as long as I can remember.
    I'm neutral when it comes to this issue, but I sincerely hope that both parties can come up with a durable 2-state solution.
    Jerusalem is a holy city for the 3 monotheist religions, it wouldn't be fair for Israelis to close it down and forbid Christian and Muslim pilgrims to visit it.
    I, as a Lebanese, am not allowed to visit Israel because I would be denied access back to Lebanon. Is the idea of signing a peace or recognition treaty with Lebanon in the near future possible?



    March 22, 2010 at 11:48 am | Reply
  41. babatunde ayinde

    Christopher Lee and David Brown. The two of you are totally ignorant of historical facts. Where is it in history that palestine belong to the Arabs ? Can they lay claim to any sites dating back two thousands years ? The Jews had been occupants of the holy land before the Arabs and before the conquest by the Babylonians. These are historical facts.
    David Brown enough of your sacrilege.

    Mr. Mayor, may God guide you on this perilous job.


    March 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  42. Harry Katz

    If you knew that not allowing a divided Jerusalem would lead to another generation of war, or having a divided Jersusalem and being able to sign a peace accord next year, what would you choose?

    March 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  43. William Marlowe

    Should we expect an answer to any of the comments and questions left for the Mayor at any time in the forseeable future?

    March 23, 2010 at 12:57 am | Reply
    • philcnn

      Hi William
      The Mayor will be replying to comments on air this Wednesday at 2100 GMT on CNN's Connect the World. We'll also post his full interview online on Thursday morning at http://www.cnn.com/connect.

      March 23, 2010 at 8:36 am | Reply
  44. Keira

    Mr. Mayor,

    I've heard you say there will be "neighborhoods for Palestinians and neighborhoods for Israelis". Why not build a neighborhood for BOTH, Israelis & Palestinians? Why instead of segregation teach children the importance of co-existing & stop the cycle of hatred/violence?



    March 23, 2010 at 5:06 am | Reply
  45. Bashir Zakari

    Before i ask you my question, i will like to quote two leaders Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu who are vital to the peace process. President Netanyahu said in front of US audience that Jerusalem is not a settlement but Jewish capital and also Jewish people built Jerusalem 3000 yrs ago and presently with the settlement expansion building Jerusalem now. On the other hand Secretary Clinton wants Israel to halt settlement expansion and allow the peace deal to decide the future of Jerusalem. Mr Mayor based on your recent comment on the proposed settlement expansion, it seems that you have divided Jerusalem with two-third belonging to Jews and one-third belonging to Arabs. From all these comments from you and Mr President, it seems that you guys have already decided the fate of Jerusalem without the Palestinians input and also Americans your trusted ally or rather puppet.
    My question is please tell us what exactly you guys have decided?

    Abuja, Nigeria

    March 23, 2010 at 8:46 am | Reply
  46. Gbakinro Opeyemi

    Mr mayor, what are u planning on doing 2 stop d conflict between Isreal and Palestine

    March 23, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  47. Enda


    Jerusalem seems like an apatheid city – even the public transport doesn't connect the Arab and Jewish areas. What are you doing to reconcile the two communities? Specifically, what are you doing to encourage Arabs to live, work and socialise in the west part of the city?

    March 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  48. Enda

    Ps. I am in Amsterdam!

    March 23, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Reply
  49. ola

    Do you agree with over 75% of opinion poll that enough is enough America under Obama if serious most review it's foreign policy towards Israel.This special relationship must be reviewed for the benefit of humanity and fair foreign policy.

    March 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  50. Gavriel mickey.

    I am a Jewish boy about to have my bar mitzvah in birmingham, england. I want to know, is it possible to have peace in Israel with palistine? I live around a lot of Asian people, and every body here wants peace. We are all friends and we all want peace. I hope you succeed in this peace proccess as Israel is a nice place with nice people, and the war just wrecks it all. Thank you for listening,
    Gavriel mickey.

    March 24, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  51. Immanuel

    Why would d palestinias want to take GAZA. If dey want to take it, den give it to dem. If GOD is d one who gave gaza to d isrealite, he knows what to do. Are there no people in GAZA wen GOD gave d land to u? Ok u just watch, wat happened to people dat are in GAZA b4 GOD gave d land to u will happen to dem. U just make sure u follow d commandment dat d LORD our GOD as given u and let see what will happen. Immanuel from NIGERIA.

    March 25, 2010 at 11:58 am | Reply
  52. The Question Is

    Why can't the world recognize Jewish rights as they seem to care about Palestinian rights. We Jews were there for thousands of years yet Jews can't pray at the Temple Mount. We always had a majority of the population and it was the Arabs that took east Jerusalem in 1948.


    March 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Reply

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