The cabinet held a special meeting at the capital’s Ammunition Hill memorial
site to mark Jerusalem Day and the 45th anniversary of the Six Day War, when
Jerusalem was reunited.
The fierce battle against Jordanian forces at
Ammunition Hill inspired a classic song describing the conquest of the hill, and
it became the symbol of the war for many Israelis.
Tourism in Jerusalem
dominated the agenda at the meeting, where the cabinet approved NIS 350 million
over the next seven years to develop sites and infrastructure in the capital,
with a focus on biblical tourism. Israel hosted 2.8 million foreign visitors in
Eighty percent of them visited Jerusalem and 30% stayed at least
one night in the city.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, every
million tourists add NIS 5.5 billion to the economy and create 30,500
Approximately NIS 20m. of the tourism funding will be directed
toward the Mount of Olives Cemetery.
The plan is to renovate 15,000
graves and install 150 security cameras to stop desecration and stoning
Part of the money will also go to improve the “green lung” of
Jerusalem’s parks and open spaces.
The money will be used to develop the
Slopes of Mount Scopus national park, next to the Arab neighborhood of Isawiya,
which residents oppose because it will stop their neighborhood from
Netanyahu tasked the Jerusalem Development Authority with
overseeing the development of biblical tourism sites. “[The money] will enable
us to build biblical sites in the city that will enhance and explain our link to
the land of the Bible, to Zion, and also allow millions of people, no less,
millions of people to have a direct appreciation of Israel’s heritage as it
finds expression in the Bible,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly
Additionally, the ministers approved the construction of
housing for soldiers and police, similar to neighborhoods built for soldiers’s
families in Maccabim-Reut, Yavne and Rosh Ha’ayin. The Prime Minister’s Office
noted that housing for soldiers not only brings young, working people to the
community, but also encourages well-paid career soldiers to stay in the area and
raises the average salary. This housing will be built on land that does not
require the Israel Lands Authority to publish tenders, meaning the approval
process will be streamlined.
After financial difficulties at the
Ammunition Hill Memorial recently forced the directors to threaten to close it,
Netanyahu said on Sunday the government would change its status to make it a
national heritage site, which would ensure funding. Ammunition Hill, which hosts
150,000 visitors a year, will receive NIS 20m. over the next three years from
the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the
Tourism Ministry, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ammunition Hill non-profit
organization, and the American branch of the Jewish National Fund.
Nir Barkat touted the improvements in Jerusalem’s education and economic
success. He added that the city was experiencing unprecedented growth. For the
first time in years, it saw an increase in enrollment in both the secular and
the national-religious schools, a sign that non-haredi families are electing to
stay in the city, he said.