President Rivlin addresses Jerusalem Day commemorations
President Reuven Rivlin, spoke this evening (Sunday) at the state ceremony commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem, held on Ammunition Hill, the site of a crucial battle in the Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel reunified Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also spoke at the ceremony which was also attended by Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Nachman Shai and Vice President of the Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein. During the ceremony Rochelle Sivan Hadari, the widow of the late Private Neta Hadari, lit the memorial torch. Five torches were carried by Central Command Commander Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, representatives of the Jerusalem Brigade, Harel Brigade Commander Col. Haggai Amar, Paratrooper Brigade Commander Col. Guy Levy, 102 Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Ido.
The President stated, "We are now fortunate to see the growth and prosperity of Jerusalem – a state capital with bustling streets filled with young men and women, boys and girls. A capital with a vibrant and developed civil society, seminaries that cater to the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi), the secular and the traditional, and arts and culture that is unique, and has all sprung up from the unique human fabric."
The President added, "As a Jerusalemite and a lover of the city, I ask today about peace in my united Jerusalem, which stands above all bargaining. My Jerusalem is Zion and Zionism, and yet it does not belong only to its history it belongs first and foremost to its people, and to all its residents: secular, religious and Haredi, Arabs and Jews. And in my united Jerusalem there is west and there is an east and there are no secondary sons, there are no secondary Jerusalemites."
The President stressed the responsibility arising from the consolidation of the city in light of the differences between eastern and western Jerusalem and said, "We are confronting rightly, justly, and without hesitation, criticism over our right to be sovereign in a united Jerusalem. I fear that we ourselves have not yet looked frankly at the meaning of our sovereignty in the city. When we look today at the huge disparities between the eastern part of the city and the western part, we have to tell ourselves honestly - we completed the physical unification of the city, but the task of unifying the city's social and economic aspects have barely begun. While western Jerusalem is enjoying the momentum of development and impressive growth, the eastern part of the city is in disrepair and neglect. It needs to be said that today, after years of viewing eastern Jerusalem and its people as transparent, groundbreaking steps are currently being taken in the fields of education, housing and infrastructure, and for that we need to congratulate the Mayor. However, there is much more to be done. This is a national mission which needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the incoming government. The events of the past few months including the phenomenon of stone-throwing by roaming children only reinforced the understanding that security involves welfare. In recent months Jerusalem has witnessed bloody, brutal murderous terrorist attacks. We will continue to fight against terrorism without hesitation and without fear. With that in mind, the ticking bomb that is the welfare of the residents of eastern Jerusalem will not be able to be dismantled by police and security forces alone. It would be foolish and wrong to think so. And above all it would be negligent not address the issues in time."
The President added that, "Sovereignty entails responsibility. Sovereignty involves policy. Sovereignty involves determination. The reunification of Jerusalem in practice, in terms of narrowing the pressing gap between its eastern and western parts is a task that all lovers of Jerusalem, from the Right and Left alike, have to agree upon and strive to achieve. Only thus, can we ask for peace in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is given to us in trust. We must bear the heavy responsibility for the peace of the city's inhabitants here, and for the peace of those who believe in the city from around the world. May we know to ask for city's well-being as a united Jerusalem, for the sake the city's lovers, its people and all it's believers."