Israel celebrates the reunification of its capital city as Palestinian leaders incite violence and several countries, including the UAE and Bahrain, blame Israel.
On the eve of Yom Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem Day, marking the 54th anniversary of the reunification of Israel’s capital city, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that under Israeli sovereignty, the city remains open to people of all religions and will continue to maintain law and order in the face of Arab violence.
Speaking at a festive cabinet meeting held at Jerusalem City Hall to mark the day, Netanyahu warned the Palestinians that their continued incitement to violence over the past week would get them nowhere.
“We are currently witnessing violent disturbances in Jerusalem under the influence of agitators,” Netanyahu said. “We will not allow any extremist element to undermine the quiet in Jerusalem. We will uphold law and order – vigorously and responsibly. We will continue to guard freedom of worship for all faiths but we will not allow violent disturbances.”
Spurred by calls from Fatah and Hamas leaders to increase violence against Israel, Arabs have been rioting for the past several nights in Jerusalem, and on Saturday night terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel and set explosive devices on the Gaza-Israel border. There were no injuries or damage from the rocket.
The annual Jerusalem Day celebrations scheduled for Sunday evening and Monday usually include a flag parade and singing and dancing in the Old City, but media reports indicated that due to the increased violence in the city, security officials were considering scaling down the events.
The Palestinian-inspired violence, especially by rioters at the Al Aqsa Mosque who attacked police, achieved at least one goal – getting condemnations from Arab countries, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Both countries overlooked the recent increase in violence by Arabs in the city and instead pointed fingers at Israel.
The UAE said Israel had a “responsibility for de-escalation” and called for an “end all attacks and practices that lead to continued tension,” Reuters reported.
Along with calling for calm, Netanyahu rejected the foreign criticism, including from the Biden Administration, over new construction in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem.
“We emphatically reject the pressures not to build in Jerusalem,” the prime minister said. “Unfortunately, these pressures have been increasing of late. I say to our best friends as well: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Just as every people builds its capital and in its capital, so too do we reserve the right to build in Jerusalem and to build up Jerusalem. This is what we have done and what we will continue to do.”
After two days of rioting on the Temple Mount of the Jerusalem’s Old City spurred on by leaders of the Hamas terror group, Netanyahu said law and order would prevail.
“For 54 years, Jerusalem has been united under the rule of the democratic State of Israel. When one looks back over thousands of years of Jewish rule and the foreign rule, and today again under the state of the Jews, only under the sovereignty of Israel has full and consistent freedom of worship been ensured for all faiths, and thus we will continue,” Netanyahu said.