JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's mayor of Jerusalem said Tuesday that Palestinians will never have sovereignty in the Holy City, suggesting that they rename Ramallah as "northern Jerusalem" instead.
Speaking to The Times of Israel news site, Nir Barkat said it was in Jerusalem's DNA to be under "sole Jewish rule" and pressure from the international community to stop building on occupied territory was "illegal."
"The answer is no separation of the city … If the world pushes us there, it’s just a matter of time before things will fall apart," Barkat told the Times on the eve of Jerusalem Day, a controversial national holiday celebrating what Israelis call the "reunification" of the city.
The international community views Palestinian East Jerusalem to be under occupation.
Barkat said it was "ridiculous" that Jews were not allowed to pray in the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa compound and added that he was uncomfortable with the status quo on the issue.
There are around 360,882 Palestinians in Jerusalem, or 38 percent of the city's population, and East Jerusalem is widely viewed as the future capital of a Palestinian state.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and formally annexed the area in 1980 after passing the 'Jerusalem Law' in a move never recognized by the international community.
Finding themselves involuntarily under Israeli control, Israeli rights group ACRI says Palestinians in Jerusalem do not play any part in policy-making in the city, even though Israeli authorities have an obligation to uphold their rights.
Once a center for Palestinian political, economic, religious and cultural life, the "effects of annexation, neglect, rights violations, and the completion of the Separation Barrier have led to an unprecedented deterioration in the conditions" of East Jerusalem, ACRI says.