We will not let extremists and fanatics ignite Jerusalem. We will respond to any attempt to undermine the order and stability of Israel’s capital with an iron fist. Jerusalem will remain a unified city for all its residents.
The murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is a low point in the history of our people, a despicable and contemptible act that threatened to drag us into the depths of self-destruction. It is a personal tragedy for a special individual; it is a family tragedy; and it is a national tragedy. It is also a danger to Israeli democracy, and we must remain vigilant at all times.
Disagreements and differences of opinion, even when substantial and sharp, have and will always exist. There is no democracy without real debate, which can be fiery and profound at times, but under one condition: That the boundaries of the argument are maintained, that freedom of expression is not abused and that no one ever rises against their fellows to kill them.
Even with disagreement, and I would say especially when there is disagreement, the unity of the people around fundamental ideas – this unity is an unparalleled asset. We witnessed unity this past summer during the days of fighting against our enemies. We saw how important it is and how much strength it gives us, and we need that same unity now in order to confront challenges both domestic and foreign with determination and success.
If there is one idea around which we have all united for hundreds and thousands of years, it is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is different than most world capitals: It is not just a capital city, it is our heart and soul and it is the foundation for our existence as a sovereign nation.
Ten days before his murder, at an event marking 3,000 years of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin said, "In Israel there is one subject on which we do not disagree – the wholeness of Jerusalem and its continued existence and strengthening as the capital of Israel. There are not two Jerusalems; there is only one Jerusalem. As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem is not a subject for compromise and there is no peace without Jerusalem." Rabin later emphasized, "Jerusalem was ours, it is ours and it will remain so forever."
Distinguished guests, over the past several months, and especially over the past several days, we have witnessed a campaign of wild incitement against the State of Israel led by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners. Hamas terrorists carry out terror attacks and Abu Mazen sends them condolence letters. Well, I wish to convey my condolences from here to the family of Officer Jidan Assad of the Border Police, and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured.
This front of hatred is directed at all of us. It seeks to run over all of us. When faced with this front, there are some people who try to find the guilty among us. Instead we must stand together and say clearly and without apology: Unified Jerusalem is our capital and it will remain so.
We are in a battle for Jerusalem. It may be a prolonged battle. I am certain we will be victorious. For some people, the issue of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem is an instrument of political struggle. Our presence in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, is called a provocation. They simply want to uproot us from here. They try to rewrite history, deny our brave affinity for Jerusalem and claim that we are trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, spread lies that want to harm or destroy the al-Aqsa mosque or change the prayer arrangements for Muslims on the Mount.
There is no greater falsehood than this. This is slander from extremists and it must be viewed against the backdrop of what is happening today in the Middle East. Various parties in the region that are contaminated by terror or who aspire to establish an Islamic caliphate in some version or another, they are the first to fan the flames of incitement. And the most absurd thing is that they complain about Israel? The only country that, out of principle, methodically protects the ritual sites of all the religions – they complain about us? Who is protecting and who is destroying? We saw this in the past in Afghanistan when the Taliban destroyed holy sites and we see it today in Syria and Iraq when ISIS fanatics destroy mosques wholesale. In these countries, any place holy to other religions or even to different sects faces the same fate – destruction.
It turns out that boundless violence walks hand in hand with religious intolerance. We will not let extremists and fanatics ignite Jerusalem. We will respond to any attempt to undermine the order and stability of Israel’s capital with an iron fist. Jerusalem will remain a unified city for all its residents.
No country in the world is willing to barter over its capital. Yitzhak Rabin said the same thing when he established his government 22 years ago. "The government is determined," he said, "that Jerusalem is not up for debate. The coming years will be marked by an expansion of building in Greater Jerusalem. All Jews, religious and secular alike, swear, ‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill’." May these words from Yitzhak Rabin serve as a beacon for us and may his memory be blessed.