PM: We'll never return to a torn, divided Jerusalem
At ceremony marking 49th year since the city's unification Netanyahu states that placing Israeli flag above Western Wall was 2nd most important moment after declaration of independence; President Rivlin: Prophetic vision became reality, Jerusalem returned to its children.
"49 years ago, Jerusalem was released from its shackles. We will not return to a reality whereby the city is torn, divided, and wounded," Netanyahu said.
President Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the ceremony, and called on the government not to empty the city of its symbols, touching upon the issue whereby government ministries are moving out of Jerusalem.
The ceremony took place on Mt. Herzl and was attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Comissioner Roni Alsheikh, and various government ministers and mayors.
The ceremony began with torches being lit by various representatives of the IDF regional commands to remember those who fell trying to liberate the city from the Jordanians. Netanyahu also shared his memories of Jerusalem and said that the current, magical reality was at one time very different.
"It was a reality of huge concrete walls with snipers on top, no mans lands and minefields," Netanyahu said.
He continued saying, "The veterans here remember what the soldiers wrote on the military vehicles – 'there will not be a second Auschwitz, and there will not be a second Masada.' I remember the feeling of threatening danger and adrenaline and the spirit of our fighters, which thanks to them, our situation changed from one side to the other. This was proven once again – that the only way to guarantee our existence is our presence and ability to defend ourselves and to protect the security of the state of Israel."
Netanyahu, who is flying on to Moscow on Monday, said that "placing the Israeli flag on the Western Wall was the second most important moment after the declaration of the State of Israel. This spiritual ascendance encompassed the entire nation, both in Israel and in the Diaspora. It was at that moment that a national consciousness was launched amongst Jews in the former Soviet Union."
"Tomorrow, I'm flying to Moscow to mark 25 years of relations between Russia and Israel. But on the eve of the Six Day War, the armies which surrounded us were all armed and funded by the USSR. Russia is a global power, and our relations are getting stronger. The strengthening of this relationship strengthens our national security and prevents unnecessary friction on our northern border."
The prime minister also referred to the peace process and said that nobody would force upon Israel international dictates. "Peace is achieved through direct and free negotiations between the parties. We've seen it with peace with Egypt and Jordan. It was not achieved by international dictates. In the period after the Six Day War, when the military campaign was over, the political campaign began," said Netanyahu. "The same players in the international arena who did not lift a finger to help us when the threat of destruction hovered over us were those who tried to impose a political settlement on us. It did not work then and will not work today. Any international dictate hardens the Palestinians’ positions. Anyone who denies our connection to Jerusalem, transforms the Temple Mount into a center of religious incitement, who does not renounce terrorism - still has a long way to peace. "
President Rivlin said at the ceremony: "Our eyes were raised towards you Jerusalem. 49 years ago our prayers were answered. The city opened its closed heart to her lovers who were knocking at her gates. Prophetic vision became reality. Jerusalem returned to its children. Here, on this heroic hill, one of the symbols of the heroism of the State of Israel , a blood-soaked battle took place in which more than 180 fighters, within whom the fire of Jerusalem burned, were killed… We sacrificed ourselves for Jerusalem because we knew that one must insist when it comes to her.”
Rivlin also spoke about the planned move of the Public Broadcasting Authority from Jerusalem and expressed his joy that the Prime Minister decided to stop the process. "I hope this is so. This is because it is not possible that 80 years to the day after the first Hebrew broadcast, from the “Voice of Jerusalem” radio station, public broadcasting from Jerusalem will cease, "said the president. "One does not give up on symbols. We must not empty Jerusalem of its symbols. Jerusalem is not just a strip of land, it is a spiritual legacy, the spirit of the Jewish people.”