Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Thursday to criticism invoked by his British counterpart David Cameron a day earlier regarding settlement construction in East Jerusalem.
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"My friend David Cameron, who is undoubtedly a friend of Israel, probably forgot some basic facts about Jerusalem," Netanyahu said at a Likud party conference in the southern city of Ofakim. "Only Israeli sovereignty is preventing ISIS and Hamas from setting fire to the holy sites in the city, like they do elsewhere across the Middle East."
Netanyahu mentioned that only Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem guarantees the city's Arab residents roads, clinics, workplaces and other means of normal life that Arabs across the Middle East don't enjoy."Only Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem guarantees the rule of law for everyone, something that doesn’t exist in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya or other wide parts of the Middle East, including the Palestinian Authority and also Gaza," Netanyahu said.
"Only Israeli sovereignty guarantees all that, and it's important that our friends in Europe remember this simple fact," he said.
Cameron called construction in East Jerusalem "genuinely shocking" in response to a query from a Labour MP during during a parliamentary question period on Wednesday. He also condemned what he said was the "effective encirclement of East Jerusalem."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also condemned Cameron's comments, saying he was "mistaken due to his lack of knowledge of the facts and reality on the ground."
"The condition of the resident of eastern Jerusalem is much better today than in all the countries surrounding us, certainly than during the time of the British Mandate," he said.
The mayor recommended that Britain adopt the model of a unified Jerusalem, adding that this is what "the majority of its Arab residents prefer too, as international surveys conducted recently in the city show."
"In Jerusalem, as in London, every resident has the right to live anywhere they so desire, and discrimination based on religion, race and gender is forbidden!" he said.