Thursday marked Jerusalem Day in Israel. This was the day on the Hebrew calendar marking the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli defeat of an attack by the Jordanian Arab Legion against Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.
The battle unexpectedly gave Israel control over all of Jerusalem and united the holy city under Israeli rule. During 19 years of Arab rule over the Old City of Jerusalem, all Jewish synagogues and seminaries in the Old City were burned, and no Jew was allowed to enter the Old City.
The speeches by Israeli leaders on this year’s Jerusalem Day ceremonies were aimed both at the people of Israel and at the president of the United States.
These speeches were prompted by the publication of an Obama Middle East plan, which would force Israel to relinquish control of Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority and cede sovereignty over the Old City to the U.N.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his first speech since his return from his meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House. He addressed the nation on all Israeli electronic media to give the “assurance that Jerusalem will not be divided” and that “Jerusalem is not on the negotiating table.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres delivered a strong speech on Ammuition Hill, on the spot of one of the bloody battles in Jerusalem. He reminded the world that only Israeli rule has given “freedom of access of all religions, and that this is why Jerusalem’s sovereignty would remain in Jewish hands.”
Appearing at a leading Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, Israeli Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, addressing the president with a message from the people of Israel, gave a direct message for Mr. Obama: “The president of the United States must know that Jerusalem belongs to the people of Israel.”
Senior Israeli government minister Benjamin Begin, son of the legendary late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, spoke at a Jerusalem Day rally and stressed the historical right of the Jewish people to Jerusalem.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Begin criticized “foreign leaders” who demand the people of Israel relinquish their rights in Jerusalem and other portions of the land of Israel, when “these leaders know full well from the experience of the past 15 years that no peace settlement will come out of any of this.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org