Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deputy PM: “Jerusalem Will Not be Divided”

Hillel Fendel Deputy PM: “Jerusalem Forever

"Jerusalem will remain Israel’s eternal capital forever.” So stated Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on Wednesday at a special Knesset session marking Jerusalem Day, adding, “This is not a promise; it’s a fact.” Participating in the special Knesset session were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, his predecessor Uri Lupoliansky, and members of the Jerusalem City Council.

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, a former Jerusalem City Council member, opened the session by calling upon the Mayor and the City Council to do all they can to restore to Israeli citizens’ a sense of pride in their capital city. Former Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima), still reeling from the revelations that she spent more than NIS 100,000 of public monies to refurbish her home for "official business," spoke of poverty in the capital.

But Minister Shalom, still considered to be a political rival of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, grabbed the limelight with his unequivocal statement. “We disagree among ourselves on many issues, but regarding Jerusalem, the overwhelming majority agrees. There are no two Jerusalems. There is one Jerusalem, and it will never be a topic for discussion.”

“The future of Jerusalem is like the future of the State of Israel, and like that of the entire Jewish nation," Shalom said. "Jerusalem will never be divided, and we will never give up Jerusalem.”

Minister Shalom, who served as Foreign Minister in Ariel Sharon’s government, mentioned the Jewish People’s unshakeable historical bonds with the city: “King David made it his capital nearly 3,000 years ago, and King Solomon built the first Holy Temple on Mt. Moriah, the site of the Temple Mount. When it fell and was torn away from us, the exiled Jews in Babylon wept and vowed never to forget it… Ever since, it has been the very heart of the Jewish People, and is one of the most blatant expressions of our Jewishness.”

“As a minister in the Government of Israel, I am proud to be among those standing guard on behalf of Jerusalem,” Shalom stated.

Livni: 'No' is Not an Answer

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, who led negotiations with the Palestinian Authority under the previous government that reportedly included an agreement to divide Jerusalem, also spoke at the special session: “I suggest to all of us not to preach and not to divide us into those who love Jerusalem and who are more obligated to here, and those who are less… The State of Israel must have a vision that is translated into a program; the way to protect Israel, its security, its national interests, and Jerusalem and the holy sites – is by translating the vision into an Israeli initiative. We won’t preserve Jerusalem by saying 'no' to everything.”

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