Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday evening, marking 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, saying the city had been "liberated," not "occupied," and that the Western Wall and Temple Mount would forever remain under Israeli control.
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Thousands were present for Netanyahu's speech and the celebrations at the walls of Jerusalem's Old City. The event was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, the prime minister and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev.
"Fifty years ago, we didn't occupy, we liberated; by the heroism of our warriors and the love of our people, Jerusalem was liberated," said Netanyahu. "I say to the world with a clear voice: Jerusalem was and always will be the capital of Israel. The Temple Mount and the Western Wall will always remain under Israeli sovereignty."
According to Netanyahu, despite Jewish connection to Jerusalem "that shines like the sun at noon, there are those who choose to deny this obvious connection and brazenly paint us as strangers in our land."
Sunday also marked the first time since 1967 that Jerusalem Day celebrations were attended by a U.S. ambassador to Israel, with the presence of David Freedman, newly appointed to the post. The event included an audiovisual show projected on the walls of the Old City and the Tower of David.
The ceremony comes a day before U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Israel for a two-day visit, and a few days after a senior White House official told Bloomberg that the U.S. president has decided at this stage not to relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The senior White House official said that the reason for the decision is the fact that the Trump administration believes that the prospect of progress in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians seems promising. This, in light of the fact that the Palestinians aren’t setting preconditions for talks with Israel.