December 23, 2011 - 1:00am

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is considering a number of plans that would largely shift the city's meandering eastern municipal boundary to more closely follow the security barrier abutting largely Palestinian-populated areas, the city said on Thursday.

A statement sent to Xinhua said the plan would limit municipal services to areas west of the security barrier, and leave areas on the eastern side to be dealt with by the Civil Administration (CA), an army entity that sees to the daily needs of the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

The plan aims to "exchange the responsibility for providing services to the residents between the municipality and the CA, along the seam area between the security barrier and the municipality," the statement said.

The statement, however, stressed that the idea "would not require moving borders," and was solely intended to improve the level of municipal services provided to the city's residents.

"There are some Jerusalem municipal areas which lie beyond the barrier where the city struggles to dispense services, and, on the other hand, areas (to the west of) the barrier that the municipality is not responsible for, and which the CA struggles to provide its services," the statement read.

Barkat raised the proposal in a meeting with several nationalistic Zionist rabbis and leaders on Wednesday, according to Israel Radio. He plans to consult with security and other officials in order to ready a proposal to be presented to the prime minister, according to the statement.

Members of the Knesset parliament right-wing National Union party told Army Radio they were furious at Barkat's proposal, saying it "crossed all the red lines."

In a parallel development, a Knesset committee will in the next few weeks debate a bill that would declare the city the "united capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel."

Such a step would "fight anyone who question's Jerusalem affiliation with the Jewish people," according to Arieh Eldad, a National Union member who wrote the proposed legislation.

While consecutive Israeli governments have held Jerusalem as the nation's "sovereign and eternal capital," Eldad believed that "in a time when some people advocate making Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, an international capital or other such nonsense, we think there's a place to declare it as the capital of only one people and one county. It has never been anything else."

Eldad said the bill was "mostly declarative," and denied that it came at a sensitive diplomatic period, and during international criticism of construction in eastern Jerusalem.


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