The Mayor of Jerusalem has hit back at David Cameron’s description of the “genuinely shocking” encirclement of East Jerusalem by suggesting the prime minister was “mistaken”.

Nir Barkat

Nir Barkat

Nir Barkat’s barbed comments threaten to escalate the matter into a diplomatic row, after Cameron responded to a question in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Cameron was asked about settlements, and said: “What has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem, occupied East Jerusalem, is genuinely shocking.”

Barkat, who was last year filmed driving around Palestinian areas of the city toting a gun, took umbrage at the PM’s criticism, suggesting Cameron was “mistaken due to his lack of knowledge of the facts and reality on the ground”.

In a spiked comment on Britain’s past involvement in the region, he added: “The condition of the residents of eastern Jerusalem is much better today than in all the countries surrounding us, certainly than during the time of the British Mandate.” 

Barkat then invited Cameron to tour the area “to advance links,” but the offer will do little to endear the prime minister, who has been a staunch supporter of Israel but who has consistently criticised settlement-building as an obstacle to peace.