• Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Send to Kindle

Top Israeli, U.S. Political Leaders Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Jerusalem’s Reunification

Top Israeli and American political leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, participated in a joint celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification on Wednesday.

The event was broadcast simultaneously from the U.S. Capitol building in Washington and the Knesset in Jerusalem, marking the first time the two legislative bodies held a joint event, The Times of Israel reported. It was hosted by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.

“Since 1967, Jerusalem has again become a spiritual center, where members of all religions may practice their faith freely,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said in his opening remarks. “Where the sounds of Jewish prayer mingle with the voice of the muezzin and church bells. Where pilgrims come to seek God in synagogues, mosques and churches. This is Jerusalem. Reunified fifty years ago today, never to be re-divided.”

“Let us promise that support for unified Jerusalem remains high on both sides of the aisle, across the political spectrum, and throughout the United States,” Edelstein continued. “Looking around the world, and especially at this region, one thing becomes crystal clear: Only Israeli sovereignty will ensure that the city`s holy sites remain open, free, and safe for members of every religion.”

He concluded by urging the White House to “recognize Jerusalem as the official and unquestioned capital of the State of Israel. Bring your embassy to our capital.”

Edelstein was followed by his American counterpart Ryan, who called America’s commitment to Israel — dating back to President Harry Truman, who recognized Israel within minutes of its founding — a “legacy—one that’s been tried and tested over the years.”

“Brave men and women not much older than my kids fought to save Israel from imminent annihilation,” Ryan said of the Six-Day War, during which “Jerusalem—the spiritual and religious capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years—was made whole again.”

He pointed out that in Jerusalem, Jews, Christians, and Muslims can worship freely at their most sacred sites, but addted, “Let’s not take that for granted. It wasn’t always like that.”

Ryan concluded by quoting a letter written by Yoni Netanyahu to his younger brother Benjamin, now the prime minister, after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. “I don’t intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish state in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode in thousands of years of wandering,” the older Netanyahu wrote. “I intend to hold on here with all my might.”

While Yoni never lived to have children, having been killed three years later rescuing victims of a Palestinian airplane hijacking in Uganda, Ryan said that had he survived, he might have written today, “After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home. Home in the land of their ancestors. Home in the land so many have died fighting to defend. And home in their eternal, united capital of Jerusalem—never to be divided again.”

In his remarks, Netanyahu explained his commitment to keep Jerusalem united “because I remember what it was like when it was divided.” He said that Israeli control of the city, including its commitment to have it open to members of all religions, has ensured that Jerusalem did not “descend into horrible sectarian violence.”

“We see that in this great convulsion that is taking place around us, there is one free city where Christians, Jews and Muslims are free to worship undisturbed, and that’s in the free united city of Jerusalem. And that’s how it will stay,” he added.

The prime minister also thanked the U.S. for its support, observing, “America has no better friend than Israel, and Israel surely has no better friend than the United States of America.”

[Photo: GPO ]