In a speech marking the 53rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the prime minister said he wants more religious ministers in his government and promised construction in the nation’s capital will never stop.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the nation in celebrating Jerusalem Day, saying that construction in the united city will never stop.
Speaking by video Thursday evening to students at the city’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, Netanyahu reached out to religious Zionists, saying he wanted more of them in his government.
“I have a loving attitude toward religious Zionism,” Netanyahu said. “The national unity government we established earlier this week has quite a few religious ministers, the Likud has many, but I want more religious ministers in the government. I hope that more will join us, that is required and it is important for the fateful tasks ahead of us.”
Netanyahu appeared to be offering a way for the Yamina party to return to the government in order to give support for the expected move in the coming months to apply Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
The prime minister pushed back on criticism from foreign countries that oppose Israeli building on land under its control.
“There will be no stoppage in the construction in Jerusalem. Recently, I had the privilege of approving 2,200 housing units in Har Homa,” Netanyahu said, referring to the neighborhood on the south of the city bordering Bethlehem.
Speaking at the yeshiva, Knesset member and Yamina party chairman Naftali Bennett said his party wanted action from Netanyahu, not promises.
“Mr. Prime Minister, do not promise us cabinet portfolios, instead you should simply apply sovereignty over all the settlements, from Hebron to Ariel, from the Jordan Valley to Ma’aleh Adumim, as you promised to the people of Israel,” the former defense minister said. “The Land of Israel is more important than politics. ”
“Prime Minister, if you do this, we will support the decision, even from the opposition. In history, the big things are remembered forever,” Bennett said.
At the official ceremony for Jerusalem Day, President Reuven Rivlin recalled hearing the words ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands’ over a military radio while in an armored car driving from Bethlehem to Hebron. Rivlin, whose family has lived in Jerusalem since 1809, was serving in the IDF as a reserve army officer called up to fight in the Six Day War.
“It is difficult for me to describe our feelings, we sons and daughters of Jerusalem, who were part of the war to reunite the city. We, who grew up in a divided city, with longing and prayers for a city that was whole, cannot ever forget the extraordinary feeling. The feeling that we had done our duty to the Jewish people over the generations,” Rivlin said. He quoted from the Book of Psalms, saying, “Our feet stand at your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.”
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