Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s right to build and expand
Jerusalem undivided during a ceremony on Wednesday in memory of tourism minister
Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi, who was assassinated 10 years ago.
“life began in Jerusalem and ended in Jerusalem. That was Gandi – a man of
Jerusalem,” Netanyahu explained, speaking in the Knesset’s plenum.
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who love Jerusalem should learn from Gandhi,” the prime minister said. “We must
protect its unity, stop those who try to rewrite its history, and remind the
world over and over again that Jerusalem was never the capital of any other
“Over thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people prayed to
return to Jerusalem,” he recounted, quoting the Psalm: “If I forget thee, O
Jerusalem, may my right hand whither.”
Netanyahu called on Israel to
“always remember that the work of strengthening and developing Jerusalem will
never end. This is our historical and national responsibility.”
minister’s comments came the day after he announced that there would be
increased construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, a move widely seen
as the government’s reaction to the Palestinian Authority’s acceptance as a
state to UN cultural body UNESCO.
“We have the right to build in our
eternal capital,” he said. “It is our privilege and responsibility for this
generation and the next – not as punishment, but as a basic
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader MK Tzipi
Livni focused on Ze’evi’s leadership.
“There are special people to whom
the usual clichés don’t apply. They test our norms; they never compromise,”
Rivlin said. “Rehavam Ze’evi is one of those people.
unpopular opinions and symbolized the extreme end of the political map,
demanding that anyone who spoke to him would be faithful to the truth. He feared
only hypocrites, opportunists and those lacking a spine,” the Knesset Speaker
“Any of us can find ourselves one day at the extreme end of the
political conversation, alone and constantly criticized. However, not all of us
would stick to the truth the way Gandhi did. Many of us would prefer to remain
silent, because the political price is too high,” Rivlin told
“Gandhi represented the type of leadership that we don’t see today,”
“He led according to his beliefs, and did not change
according to the public’s mood and trends.
“We need leadership that makes
decisions for the good of the people’s future,” the Kadima chairwoman
“Gandhi said he puts the moledet
[homeland] before Moledet, the
“When we all understand that the homeland comes before
Likud and Kadima and Meretz and Shas and all the others, then the public’s faith
in politics will return,” Livni said.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union), a
member of the Moledet party at the time of Ze’evi’s assassination, criticized
those who spoke before him for not mentioning his political views.
quoted various interviews with Ze’evi, mentioning that the tourism minister
believed that “Arabia is the land of Arabs, Judea is the land of the Jews,” and
that “Zionism is an ideology of transfer.”
“Gandhi saw the establishment
of a Palestinian state as gambling our existence,” the National Union MK
explained. “There is only one solution: A Jewish state to the west of the Jordan
River, a Palestinian state to the east.”
In light of the Arab Spring,
Eldad said that Ze’evi’s vision is “more realistic than ever. The Jewish
state should be ready to free itself of the diplomatic dead end it is stuck
He also pointed out that Ze’evi wore dog-tags with the names of all
missing and captive IDF soldiers, as well as of Israeli agent Jonathan
“It would be a fulfillment of Gandhi’s legacy to bring Pollard
home,” Eldad said.
Also on Wednesday, Rivlin and Netanyahu were presented
with a new stamp dedicated by the Philatelic Service in Ze’evi’s
Ze’evi was a Palmah fighter and IDF major-general who founded the
Moledet party in 1988, which was known for advocating a “transfer” of
Palestinians out of Israel.
He was shot in 2001 at the Jerusalem Hyatt
hotel by gunmen from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and died
of his wounds.