"Jerusalem was always ours, will always be ours, and will never again be divided,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday in a speech in honor of Jerusalem Day.
Netanyahu spoke at Ammunition Hill, a memorial for Israeli soldiers who fell in battle during the Six Day War. The war ended the Jordanian occupation of historic Jerusalem and led to the reunification of the city.
"You, who fought to liberate Jerusalem, removed the strangulating hold over the city with your bodies,” Netanyahu said, addressing the fallen soldiers. “You reunited the city and allowed Jerusalem to flourish once again.”
Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem benefits Muslims and Christians as well as Jews, Netanyahu said. “Only under Israeli sovereignty is continued freedom of worship and free access to Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites guaranteed,” he stated. “Only thus can members of all faiths and all minority groups continue to live in security.”
Peres: Jerusalem Our Capital
President Shimon Peres spoke as well, affirming the Jewish connection to Jerusalem while dismissing other claims to the city. “Jerusalem was and remains the capital of Israel. Israel has never had another capital city, and Jerusalem has never been the capital city of another people,” he told the crowd.
Like Netanyahu, Peres reminded his listeners that only under Jewish rule were members of all faiths welcome to pray at their holy sites.
Peres offered his sympathy to families who lost loved ones in the battle for Jerusalem. The fallen soldiers “saved what is most precious to us throughout the generations, Jerusalem,” he said.