Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented the fact that Jerusalem's youth are "abandoning" the city but vowed to make infrastructure changes that would change this.
Speaking at a special Knesset hearing held in honor of Jerusalem Day, Netanyahu promised to build more schools and improve transportation to and within the city.
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He added that there were many developments going on in the capital. "I think we should praise what is happening today for the benefit of the future," he said.
"Our generation, and that of our parents, made Jerusalem Israel's capital in the War of Independence. Our generation released Jerusalem, and is building it today. The next generation will build it more, so we can be proud."
On Tuesday Netanyahu defied pressure from the United States and Europe to share Jerusalem, saying that he will not stand for the division of the capital and insinuating that he plans to authorize more construction there.
"We are in the midst of a great struggle, but we've made tremendous achievements," he said during an event at Mercaz Harav yeshiva on the eve of Jerusalem Day. "Some 44 years ago, IDF troops realized the vision of the prophets with their bodies, and restored Jerusalem's glory… We returned to Jerusalem as sons and builders, and now it is in one of its golden periods.
"Jerusalem is full of archeological sites that prove its connection to the Jewish people," he added. "Jerusalem was united, and will never be divided again."
The prime minister told the National-Religious yeshiva students that he sees Israel's future leaders in them. "You have a double role. One is to learn the Torah and grow within it, and the other, no less important, is to teach the Torah and empower our people," he said.
Netanyahu at Mercaz Harav (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Only by keeping the people united, will (Jerusalem) remain united," he added. "We will protect Jerusalem, protect its unity, and it will protect us."
He concluded his speech with a play on an ancient Jewish saying: "Next year in a more built up Jerusalem."
'Weak leadership plagues Israel'
Before Netanyahu took the stage, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, who heads the yeshiva, addressed his students, praising the prime minister's recent US Congress address. "His words came from the heart, not only the heart of the flesh, but the heart of Jerusalem," he said.
"The prime minister was right when he said that we returned to our holy land not as conquerors, but to the land of our fathers. The Jewish people are not foreign occupiers."
He added words of prayer for the return "our beloved Gilad Shalit and Jonathan Pollard."
Rabbi Dov Lior, Kiryat Arba's chief rabbi, said during the event that Israel is plagued with weak leadership, and claimed that the vision of peace serves it as opium.
He expressed hope that "our leadership will have strength, and our prime minister will declare sovereignty on all of our country's territories."
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