Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said Monday that any talk of relinquishing control of parts of the city to the Palestinian Authority as part of a future agreement would be akin to "disembowelment."
Speaking at a conference marking four decades since the city's unification following the Six Day War, Lupolianski told thousands of new immigrants from France and Russia assembled at the International Convention Center that Jerusalem was "the largest of Israel's cities and we will soon reach one million residents. This progress stands in sharp contrast with any talk of surgically removing vital parts of the capital."
Another keynote speaker at the event was Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who adamantly said that Israel must make clear its position on the division of Jerusalem ahead of the Annapolis peace conference.
"There are a lot of statements floating around but we, in going against all these bombastic words, are trying to be realistic while working to strengthen Jerusalem's standing as the capital of the Jewish people and of Israel," he said, adding that Israel must be straightforward in saying that its sovereignty over the Old City and other neighborhoods is non-negotiable.
Lieberman did however say that he did not rule out ceding the refugee camps near Jerusalem. "They are more a burden than they are an asset," Lieberman said, adding that funds currently being poured into the camps could diverted to culture and education projects in Jerusalem.
Absorption Minister Jacob Edery evoked the infamous call from the Six Day War proclaiming Israeli troops had finally taken control of the Temple Mount, a moment which has long stood as one of the most emotional triumphs in Israel's collective memory.
"The generations that preceded us prayed and dreamt of celebrating the new year in Jerusalem, it is our duty to guard it above all else and come together as we rally around the city. Amidst all this talk, we must say clearly that now and forever, Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel."