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Jerusalem, 17 May 2015 / 28 Iyar, 5775

Jerusalem Day Ceremony

(Communicated by the President’s and the Prime Minister’s media advisors)

President Reuven Rivlin spoke on Sunday evening (May 17, 2015) at the official Jerusalem Day ceremony marking 48 years since the unification of Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also spoke at the ceremony, held at the Ammunition Hill National Memorial Site, which was also attended by Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nachman Shai and Vice President of the Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.

President Rivlin stated, “We are now fortunate to see the growth and prosperity of Jerusalem – a state capital with bustling streets filled with young men and women, boys and girls. A capital with a vibrant and developed civil society, seminaries that cater to the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi), the secular and the traditional; and arts and culture that are unique and have all sprung up from the unique human fabric.”

The President stressed the responsibility arising from the consolidation of the city and said, “My Jerusalem … belongs not only to its history; it belongs first and foremost to its people and to all its residents: secular and religious, Arabs and Jews. In my united Jerusalem there is west and there is east, but there are no secondary sons, there are no secondary Jerusalemites.

We are confronting rightly, justly, and without hesitation, criticism over our right to be sovereign in a united Jerusalem. I fear that we ourselves have not yet looked frankly at the meaning of our sovereignty in the city. When we look today at the huge disparities between the eastern part of the city and the western part, we have to tell ourselves honestly: we completed the physical unification of the city, but the task of unifying the city’s social and economic aspects has barely begun.

While western Jerusalem is enjoying the momentum of development and impressive growth, the eastern part of the city is in disrepair and neglect. It needs to be said that today, after years of viewing eastern Jerusalem and its people as ‘transparent’, groundbreaking steps are currently being taken in the fields of education, housing and infrastructure, and for that we need to congratulate the mayor. However, there is much more to be done. This is a national mission which needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the incoming government.

The events of the past few months, including the phenomenon of stone-throwing by roaming children, only reinforce the understanding that security involves welfare. In recent months Jerusalem has witnessed bloody, brutal, murderous terrorist attacks. We will continue to fight against terrorism without hesitation and without fear. With that in mind, the ticking bomb that is the welfare of the residents of eastern Jerusalem cannot be dismantled by police and security forces alone. It would be foolish and wrong to think so. And above all it would be negligent not to address the issues in time.”

The President added, “Sovereignty entails responsibility. Sovereignty involves policy. Sovereignty involves determination. The reunification of Jerusalem in practice, in terms of narrowing the pressing gap between its eastern and western parts, is a task that all lovers of Jerusalem, from the Right and Left alike, have to agree upon and strive to achieve. Only thus can we ask for peace in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is given to us in trust. We must bear the heavy responsibility for the peace of the city’s inhabitants here, and for the peace of those who believe in the city from around the world. May we know to ask for city’s well-being as a united Jerusalem, for the sake the city’s lovers, its people and all its believers.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “Islamic fanaticism threatens Jerusalem, the Middle East and the entire world – Sunni fanaticism, such as that of Islamic State, and the Shi’ite extremists led by the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Extremist Sunni and Shi’ites are fighting each other, but they have a common enemy – the West, and the culture of freedom and progress that it represents.

Only last night, after vigorous action by the US against the terrorism of Islamic State, the leader of Iran, Khamenei, attacked the US and said: It is the United States – so said the man who is heading the negotiations between Iran and the major powers – that is causing and supports terrorism. These words were said when Iran still does not have nuclear weapons, and it is still not too late to go back on the plan to give Iran a deal that would pave for it a certain path to nuclear weapons. We oppose this deal and we are not the only ones who do so. It is both necessary and possible to achieve a better deal, because extremists cannot be allowed to achieve their aims, not in Iran, not in Yemen and not in Jerusalem.”

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