The state ceremony marking 43 years since the reunification of Jerusalem was held Wednesday on Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill, as international voices are increasingly calling for territorial concessions to be made in the capital. "We will never divide Jerusalem," declared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Jerusalem Day is the day on which the city of Jerusalem started to breath easy, to spread its wings for the good of all its residents, Jews and Arabs alike," said Netanyahu.
"Israel instated freedom of worship for all religions and free access to holy sites to members of all religions. We will never let Jerusalem again be a divided, gloomy, and halved city. We will continue to build and be built in Jerusalem. We will continue to plan, develop, and produce," the prime minister said.
"My friends," he added. "We are the generation that was privileged to see the liberation of Jerusalem and our return to the sites holy to our people. We also must bestow this privilege on our children and grandchildren.
"Today, the Knesset speaker said during a special Knesset session that there perhaps has been a certain estrangement from this sense of uniqueness and from our nation's unique relationship with our city. I do not think so. The people of Israel's connection with Jerusalem is so strong. It is so unique, and it surpasses any connection of any other people with its capital. It has lasted thousands of years. It has withstood so many tests. It is stronger than ever."
President Shimon Peres recalled the first report Ben-Gurion (Israel's first prime minister) gave to Israel's first government. "The facts were very bitter. Faith was unshakeable. Ever since, this faith has been the pillar of fire leading our camp – it was, is, and will be. It will remain with us in the decisive hour, if it is forced on us. It will be with us when peace comes," said Peres.
Before consoling the families of the soldiers who fell in the battle for Jerusalem, Peres boasted, 'Since the walls fell, Jerusalem has returned to its historic splendor, developing as a diverse and lively city into the largest city in our country – a one-of-a-kind metropolis. It is Israel's eternal capital. It is a city open to all believers. There is no censorship of prayers in Jerusalem, nor are they blocked from their destination – whether they come from a chazzan in the synagogue, a priest in church, or a muezzin in the mosque."