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(photo credit: Channel 1)
The climax of Israel's history came when Maj.-Gen. Mordechai Gur, who commanded the paratroops who reunified the city, declared, "The Temple Mount is in our hands" after its capture during the 1967 Six Day War, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday, as the country marked Jerusalem Day.
He said that the historic moment was unparalleled in both the past and future annals of Israeli and Jewish history.
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"There never was and there never will be another home for the Jewish people," Olmert said in an unusually nationalistic and emotion-filled address at the official Jerusalem Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill, just four hours after returning from his first official visit to the US as premier.
In an earlier address, President Moshe Katsav called Jerusalem the "source of inspiration" for the Jewish people.
"Jerusalem is the religious, national and cultural center of the Jewish people since ancient days and for eternity," he said. "Jerusalem is the Jewish people's 'genetic code,' and continues to be an inspiration for all Jews in Israel and the Diaspora."
Although Olmert said that Jerusalem was never more "Jewish, whole and united" than it is today, statistics released for the holiday indicate that its Jewish population, as a percentage of the total number of residents, continues to fall, with parity between Jews and Arabs forecast in 25 years, barring expected city boundary changes.
One-third of the city's 720,000 residents are Arabs, and Olmert has stated that he was willing to cede at least six outlying Arab neighborhoods in the city to the Palestinian Authority as part of a final peace treaty.