Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Monday’s opening of the Knesset winter session defended Israel’s right to build in Jerusalem and criticized the Palestinians for making unreasonable demands for peace.
“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.” Isaiah 52:1
As several MKs from Arab and left-wing parties interrupted his speech, Netanyahu plowed ahead, declaring that Israel has the same right to build in Jerusalem as other nations do in their own capital cities, and that there was a wide consensus in Israel to continue building throughout the city, as every government has done since Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war.
“The French build in Paris, the English build in London, the Israelis build in Jerusalem. Should we tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem because it will stir things up?” Netanyahu asked.
“Israelis pray for ‘next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem,’” he continued. “And you tell us not to build in Jerusalem? We are building, just like we built since the start of the state. On that there needs to be a clear agreement.”
He added: “Building is the natural answer to those who want to remove us from our land. They want death and we are building life.”
The prime minister spoke soon after sources told The Times of Israel that Netanyahu has recommended plans be advanced for about 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem. The plans call for roughly 400 units in Har Homa, in the city’s southeast, and 660 homes in Ramat Shlomo, in the northeast corner of the capital, according to the sources in the Prime Minister’s Office. Netanyahu will also push new infrastructure projects in the West Bank, including roads that will also serve the Palestinian population, a PMO source said.
“Israel will not agree to a Palestinian state without a true peace agreement, an agreement that will recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and that will include long-term and concrete security arrangements on the ground, that enables Israel to defend herself, with her own might, against any threat.”
“The Palestinians demand from us the establishment of a Palestinian state without peace or security. They demand withdrawal, the absorption of refugees and the division of Jerusalem. They aren’t prepared to agree to the the most basic conditions of peace between two peoples, mutual recognition.”