Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, feeling the political winds in his favor, told the Cabinet Sunday that a unified Jerusalem is “the heart of the country” and added that the government is committed to building in all parts of the city.
The Cabinet is expected to approve on Sunday NIS 290 million ($83 million) to strengthen the city’s economy, with most of the money to be allocated for tourism and biotech research and development.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments at a special Cabinet meeting in the Old City came two days before the eve of Jerusalem Unification Day, which falls on Thursday night, celebrating 44 years since all of the capital was restored to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Jordan, without United Nations authorization, occupied the southern, northern and eastern neighborhoods, where more than 250,000 Jews now live.
The Obama administration has labeled the neighborhoods as “illegitimate settlements,” backing the Palestinian Authority claim that they should be under its sovereignty in any future PA state.
Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated to Cabinet ministers what he told members of Congress last week, when he re-declared the principle of an “eternal and united Jerusalem.”
However, the government never has stated which areas of Jerusalem, if any, would be ceded to the Palestinian Authority in a final status plan for its becoming an independent country. Several Arab-populated areas of the city are situated beyond the security barrier, and the Palestinian Authority unofficially operates in several neighborhoods.
U.S.President Barack Obama declared in his 2008 campaign said that Jerusalem is Israel’s united and eternal capital but quickly backtracked after howls from the Palestinian Authority. He later explained that he meant the city never again will be divided by barbed wire fences, which Jordan placed after the War for Independence in 1949.