The glory of Jerusalem is in the heralding of peace; in the heralding of justice, morality and the hope that ensued and shaped the values of the enlightened world.


 PM Olmert's Jerusalem Day speech at Ammunition Hill-excerpts


Israelis wave national flags during a parade marking Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem (Photo: Reuters)

Today, 41 years since the Six Day War, it is time, after a great delay, to finally close the chapters of war and write a new book for Jerusalem, with its title taken from the prophecy of Isaiah, which was heard in this city 2,700 years ago and which still resonates: "How pleasant are the footsteps of the herald upon the mountains announcing peace, heralding good tidings…"

However, the realization of this prophecy is currently blocked by forces of darkness. Sons of darkness, full of twisted faith, radicalism and blind in the fanaticism of those who knowingly choose the path of terror and blood in order to impose their dark existence on all of us. While we try to create a horizon of peace, hope and light, the sons of darkness are occupied with schemes of indiscriminate killing. While we turn to the other side with our hand outstretched to shake hands, they squeeze the trigger.

The firing of Kassam missiles towards the Gaza Envelope communities and the city of Sderot is intolerable and unforgivable. The sons of darkness will not be exonerated of this.

I say to the residents of Sderot and the Gaza Envelope: my heart and thoughts are with you. You pay the ongoing price which effects your way of life, primarily that of your children. The hour of decision is approaching, after which you too will have the longed-for quiet. The threat towards you will also be removed, one way or another.

I said in the past that I prefer the path of dialogue, and indeed the Government I lead is attempting to reach a truce in this manner, but as long as all the measured steps we take do not lead to the hoped-for calm, we will be forced to turn to the sword. We will brandish it in a heavy, sharp and painful manner.

In the hopes of avoiding this turning to the sword, we will all remember that the glory of Jerusalem, like our glory as a people, is not in wars. The glory of Jerusalem is in the heralding of peace, "nation shall not lift sword against nation"; in the heralding of justice, morality and the hope that ensued and shaped the values of the enlightened world.

Jerusalem has known many wars, too many – as have we – but its hoped-for eternal destiny remains "the whole city", the city of peace. This great challenge is still before us.

I believe there is no contradiction between the Israeli people’s total allegiance to Jerusalem and its unity and our ambition to create peace within it. Jerusalem is a city of many peoples. We respect all believers, preserve their holy places and are wholly committed to freedom of religion, religious worship and conscience for all residents, visitors and lovers of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people, the axis of identity, faith and history of our people for generations. Three times a day for thousands of years, believing Jews turn their faces towards Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The power of the emotions, and the expectation of Jerusalem which throbs in the hearts of Jews in the Diaspora – the passion of their yearning, the depth of their love and the sanctity of their prayers – they are unequaled…

Forty-one years ago, in a war that was forced upon us, Jerusalem was liberated and united. Nearly 3,000 years after David and Solomon sanctified it as the capital of Israel and the city of the Temple, and nearly 1,900 years after it fell and was torn from us during the destruction of the Second Temple, Jerusalem – with Israel’s holy places contained within it – returned to the bosom of the Jewish people, who yearned and dreamed and prayed to it in endless longing. It was returned and cannot be undone.

The eternal Jewish love for and commitment to Jerusalem, which are deeper and stronger than any other, stood behind the decisions of the Israeli Government and Knesset to unify the city 41 years ago, with the support of the entire nation. They ensure Israeli sovereignty in historic and sacred Jerusalem forever.