Five days after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Congress that Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel, though adding he was open to “creative” solutions, and three days before Jerusalem Day, the cabinet on Sunday approved a NIS 290 million five-year program to economically strengthen the city.

Jerusalem is “one of the foundations of Israel’s unity,” Netanyahu said Sunday at a special cabinet meeting at the Tower of David Museum to commemorate Jerusalem Day which will be celebrated on Wednesday.

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Netanyahu said he stressed Jerusalem’s centrality recently both in Knesset and in the US Congress. He said there was an understanding in the US of the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.

“The government and the people are bound as one to build up Jerusalem, the heart of the nation, and this commitment is one of the foundations of the unity of the Jewish people,” he said.

“I emphasized these foundations, these principles, in my recent remarks before the Knesset and in my speech to a special joint meeting of the US Congress. The broad support, both in Israel and the US, for the principles that I presented are the State of Israel’s ironclad assets. It is important the entire world knows that the Jewish people and our friends around the world stand together, faithful to Jerusalem and our heritage, steadfast in their positions, insisting on our security and extending a hand in genuine peace to our neighbors. I think that today they know this very well.”

The cabinet unanimously approved an economic plan to strengthen the capital economically through two primary channels: tourism and high-tech.

The first part of the plan is a NIS 145.5 million investment to strengthen the tourist infrastructure in the city. This will be augmented by a NIS 75 million allocation from the Tourism Ministry to encourage the construction of more hotel rooms in Jerusalem.

Another NIS 71.4 million is earmarked to strengthen the city as a center of research and development, with money going to grants for start-ups, upgrading R & D laboratories, and grants for biotech initiatives.

Another NIS 70.5 million will be allocated for public buildings, student housing, academic projects, and additional measures “to attract productive residents.” In addition, the cabinet is expected to add Jerusalem to the list of cites where scholarships are given to discharged soldiers or veterans of national service for the first year of study in institutions of higher education.

“Forty-four years ago the city was unified and we returned to the places of our forefathers.

Since then, Jerusalem has flourished; both the city center and outlying areas,” Netanyahu said. The prime minister said one of the goals of the plan approved Sunday was to “turn Jerusalem into a global biotechnology center.”

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