Marking anniversary of Six Day War victory, prime minister calls capital ‘heart of the nation’; statistics show growing religious population
(SOURCE) Jerusalem will remain united forever, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, dismissing Palestinian demands that it serve as a shared capital as Israel marked the anniversary of the capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.
Speaking at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, a nationalist-religious Jewish learning institution in the capital, Netanyahu said that in the 47 years since Israel wrested East Jerusalem from Jordanian control, the city has been united: “That’s how it’s been since and that’s how it will always be.”
Once thought taboo in Israeli political circles, the idea of dividing or sharing part of Jerusalem with the Palestinians has gained traction with some Israeli politicians over recent years. Then-prime minister Ehud Olmert endorsed splitting the city in negotiations with the Palestinians in 2008, and other senior lawmakers, including Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi, have also endorsed negotiating over the capital.
In October, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowed to stymie a Knesset bill which would prevent the government from negotiating over dividing Jerusalem.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as the future capital of their independent state. Though Israel essentially annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, the international community did not recognize the move and Israeli building there is considered by many illegal.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics numbers released to mark Jerusalem Day, 37 percent of the 815,000 residents of Jerusalem are Arab.
Netanyahu described Jerusalem as “the heart of the nation” in his speech to an assemblage of Orthodox yeshiva students. “We are safeguarding our heart, the heart of the nation.”
“There is a special spirit here, and this spirit is channeled through one place, Jerusalem,” he said.