(Moran Azulay/ynetnews.com) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Wednesday that the Temple Mount and the Western Wall “will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty” during a special Knesset session celebrating Jerusalem Day and marking 50 years to the capital’s unification.
Describing Jerusalem before the 1967 Six-Day War, Netanyahu spoke of “a winding border line opening a deep chasm in Jerusalem and at its heart were barricades against snipers, barbed-wire fences and minefields. We stood on the other side, trying to look to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, and we could not access them.”
“We will never return to that situation,” he declared. “Some see the Six-Day War as a disaster for Israel,” Netanyahu went on to say. “I see it as Israel’s salvation. How could we keep existing with a narrow waist (of the country) and daily danger to our citizens?”
The prime minister spoke of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel this week, saying, “I’m sure you were all as moved as I was to see President Trump and his family standing by the Western Wall and touching its stones. The IDF soldiers who liberated Jerusalem during the Six-Day War did the same, with a burst of emotions that came from the depths of their souls.”
Netanyahu, who was 17 years old when the Israeli paratroopers reached the Western Wall during the Six-Day War, reminisced about that day. “There was an avalanche of people who broke through the hole in the wall near city hall. We flocked to the alleys and reached the Western Wall, and we too touched its stones,” he remembered.
“That historic moment when our soldiers stood at the Western Wall brought triple joy: For our success in turning the existential threat we were facing into a great miracle of salvation, for our return to our ancestors’ land, where the identity of our people was shaped, and for the wonderful unity that brought us together and proved that when we stand as one, we can face any challenge,” Netanyahu said.
“We liberated Jerusalem, turned it into one city. Not perfect, but whole,” he added.
The prime minister determined the city “is prosperous, open for all, respects people of different faiths. We’re the ones who freed Jerusalem from the neglect and continuous distress it was in. We’re the ones who brought it to a high point in its development.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), who spoke after Netanyahu, promised the prime minister that “if you go for an honest and courageous diplomatic move, my friends and I will support you without fear. This would be support the likes of which the leader of your party, (Menachem) Begin, got at the time. If you act courageously, you’ll get (our support). If you don’t, you won’t, and you will find yourself facing a bloc of prominent figures and parties who will work to complete the greatest challenge of the 21st century—separating from the Palestinians—without you.”
Herzog asserted that “Jerusalem is united on paper only. In reality, many of the neighborhoods in its eastern part are outside the jurisdiction of law enforcement and are successful exporters of terrorists and assailants.”
“Is this the united city we dreamed of?” he wondered. “We must stop talking and do something before it is too late. If we continue with the current policy, Jerusalem might become the capital of Palestine, God forbid.”
Netanyahu insisted to return to the podium so he could respond to Herzog. “The root of the matter is the violent and insistent refusal of the Palestinian side to accept the Jewish state and the Jewish capital in any border,” he said