Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, in remarks at Ammunition Hill to celebrate Jerusalem day, hailed Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government for providing an “unprecedented” amount of resources and tools to Jerusalem, enabling it to progress rapidly.
Barkat, speaking before Netanyahu and his Cabinet, thanked them for their “continuous” and “direct support of Jerusalem.” He took the opportunity to point out the “good news” coming out of Jerusalem; that “for the first time, we are seeing a changing trend: from a drastic decline in the numbers of students in the state secular and state religious schools in Jerusalem, we have seen an increase – over a 15 year span – in the state secular stream, and for the past three years, we have seen growth in the numbers of students in the state religious stream.
“Economic and cultural growth in the city have also been considerably higher than the national average over the past three years,” Barkat continued. “Jerusalem has returned to being a cultural capital with a growing number of visitors and tourists.” Barkat also highlighted the “increase in pupils’ achievements on their matriculation exams, and…in enlistment in the IDF from Zionist schools.”
The Prime Minister, in response, took the opportunity to announce a number of initiatives related to the city of Jerusalem: the decision to renovate Ammunition Hill and turn it into a heritage site; a plan to “build Biblical sites in [Jerusalem] that will enhance and explain our link to the Land of the Bible”; a decision to alleviate housing distress in Jerusalem by building subsidized apartments for military and police personnel; and the decision to build an Einstein Museum in Jerusalem.
“We are joining the past, the present and the future,” Netanyahu said, “and I think that very great and important things are being done here to ensure the future of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital as well.”
Turning to the hot-button issue of the 60,000 “illegal infiltrators” currently residing in Israel, Netanyahu underscored the threat they posed to the Jewish and democratic nature of the state. He said that the first step is to complete the physical barrier. “By October it will be complete in its entirety…But until then we will block it with other means, including forces.”
The next step, he said, “is to start withdrawing. How will this be done? First of all, those who employ illegal infiltrators will be severely punished, and we will also begin the physical withdrawal.”
“We will resolve the issue, not by shouting,” he concluded, “but by action. We hear the shouts, we are taking action and the action will succeed.”