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