"The future of Jerusalem depends on our ability to open up to the past." Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, was speaking on Sunday, October 28, at the inauguration ceremony of the Restorers of Jerusalem project. The project, which was financed by friends of KKL-JNF from Canada, involves development of the area around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem south of Jaffa Gate. It includes lawns, benches, historical information stations, accessible paths and more. The area was already declared a park in the early 1970s, following the Six Day War, but it had fallen into disrepair and needed to be restored. Both the past and also the present donors are friends of KKL-JNF from Canada, and they are both inscribed on the commemoratory wall at the site.
The audience included representatives of the organizations partner to the project, representatives of KKL-JNF in Israel and JNF Canada, including Frank Wilson, the president of JNF Canada, and Nathan Diesenhouse, the president of JNF Toronto, along with members of the Canadian National Mission to Israel, many of whom had donated to the project.
The mayor went on to say that "since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967, we have been developing Jerusalem and revealing layers upon layers of history while guaranteeing freedom of religion, speech and movement. The number of tourists visiting Jerusalem has recently doubled from two to four million, and we have found that ninety percent of them go back home with an understanding that Israel develops Jerusalem for the benefit of all people who come here in peace.
"I used to live in the Old City, and this was an area hardly anyone came to. Thanks to you, it's now very inviting. People come here, tourists enjoy the greenery and rest on the benches, and this strengthens the sovereignty of Jerusalem. I would especially like to thank our friends from JNF Canada and its president, Frank Wilson, for their support of this project. You are the shareholders of Jerusalem and we are grateful for what you have done for our city."
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