With the sobriety which comes after 40 years of unity, we wish to see a city which truly unites between its stones the hearts of all its residents.
"In Jerusalem there is always hope for the best," wrote Yehuda Amichai, the most "Yerushalmi" of our poets. And indeed, for all the generations, Jerusalem filled countless hearts with hope for the best – hope for peace in a whole city, hope for joining together the "city that is united together."
Today, we celebrate 40 years since the reunification of the two parts of the city. However, these 40 years appear as a passing moment in the rich history of this magnificent city. So many have yearned for it, so many have longed for it and so many have sacrificed their lives for it. And we, who are blessed with such a capital, must ask ourselves, every year anew, what we are doing for this city in order to be deserving of it?
At this time, with the sobriety which comes after 40 years of unity, we wish to see a city which, rather than create disagreements, solves them; a city which does not constitute another focus for bloodshed, but rather one for agreement and understanding – a city which truly unites between its stones the hearts of all its residents.
So many crowns adorned this city of gold and silver, this city which smells of pine, as we come again to sing to it, we truly seem like the last of the poets. However here, in this house, we can do what the poets did not do – we have the mandate to implement actions which will transform Jerusalem into the city we see in our imaginations.
However, we have more than a mandate. We also have a duty to strengthen the city, encourage its residents to stay and to attract even more residents.
Five important resolutions were passed yesterday at the Government meeting, and they will advance Jerusalem to a better future:
The first was the cancellation of the employer’s tax for non-profit organizations, which will, in fact, allow cultural, educational and health organizations an additional budget of NIS 320 million per annum.
Another resolution is the transfer of the national units of the government to Jerusalem – an additional step on the path to strengthening the city and preserving the status of the city as the capital, from which all government units operate.
We approved the construction of Stage A of the new magistrate’s court in Jerusalem – in the Arlozorov area. Thus, 11 judicial instances will moved to the center of town, and will make it even more prosperous.
We accepted the plan for encouraging economic growth in the city for the years 2008-2012, the basis of which is an additional NIS 5 million per annum in the existing budget, so that it will from now on stand at NIS 40 million.
In order that we do not leave the city with a great deal of material without any soul, the Government yesterday resolved to establish a central school for Jerusalem studies at Yad Ben-Zvi. This school will constitute a leading body with regard to Jerusalem studies and resources will be allocated to it to encourage studies in this field.
In addition, we must not forget the ongoing investment by the Government in projects such as the light rail, encouraging students to move to the center of town, upgrading the tourism layout in the Old City and providing incentives to bio-tech industries in the city.
"In Jerusalem all are symbols," continued Yehuda Amichai as he described his city, his love, "Even two lovers in it would be a symbol, like the lion, like the Golden Dome, like the gates." And indeed, it sometimes seems as if Jerusalem has been left as a symbol while life exists in other places.
However, this is not so, and it is our duty to infuse new energy into the capillaries of the city, to reawaken the fabric of life which is so unique, and to ensure that this city is not just a symbol of the past, but rather the symbol of a capital city which is full of life, a bustling metropolis which does not for one moment forget its past.
There is much still to do in this city, the largest city in Israel, in which 750,000 residents live together. We have not finished reducing the gaps, we have not finished erasing poverty, we still need to ensure a good quality of life for those who live on both sides of the city.
It is true there is still much to be done, but we can look at the 3,000 years of the city’s history and know that there is still time in which to manage everything, and that 40 years are not enough to remedy the ailments of a place like Jerusalem.
"Why in Jerusalem are there always two – above and below?" continues and asks Yehuda Amichai, and answers: "And I want to live in Jerusalem of the middle, without hitting my head above and without injuring my legs below."
Not only the poet, but we too want one Jerusalem – a Jerusalem for its residents, Jews and Muslims, Christians and Armenians. We want a Jerusalem which does not differentiate between colors, religions, classes. We want a Jerusalem which embraces its residents in the warm embrace of generations, and promises them protection between its ancient stones, and draws from them encouragement for many years. We look to such a Jerusalem and we will actualize such a Jerusalem with our own hands.