In a special Knesset plenum session ahead of Jerusalem Day on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said there is coexistence between the Jewish and Arab residents of the capital city – sparking the rage of the radical leftist Meretz party.
"United Jerusalem is developing in giant steps, we don't need to make excuses for our presence in Jerusalem," Netanyahu told the Knesset, despite accusations from nationalist activists that he is dividing the city in practice.
He referenced the UNESCO resolution from April divorcing the Temple Mount from the Jewish people, even though the Mount is the holiest site in Judaism where the First and Second Temples stood.
"UNESCO recently decided that the Temple Mount has no connection to the Jewish people," said Netanyahu. "This is an absurd and infuriating claim. It is ridiculous, but this ridiculousness and lie is gaining a foothold worldwide."
Noting on the anti-Semitic nature of the resolution, he said, "historical distortions such as these are reserved only for the Jews."
Netanyahu referenced how the Temple Mount was regularly used to incite the current Arab terror wave, particularly by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and he called to make sure "this explosive is not redeployed" during the approaching Muslim month of Ramadan.
"The incitement around the Temple Mount had an important part in igniting the terror of individuals as it has been termed," he said.
Speaking about Jerusalem, he said, "the coexistence exists and we must preserve it, for all the foreseeable future."
"No solution without dividing the capital"
Later in the session MK Zehava Galon, chairperson of the radical leftist Meretz party, took the podium to speak and promptly condemned Netanyahu.
"This is a city of violence and fear, every third child in it is poor," she said, referencing a poverty report from last December that in fact applied not only to Jerusalem but to the entire country.
She said in Jerusalem there are "bullies who march in its streets and attack Palestinians, and Palestinians who in acts of terror stab Jewish citizens," in a surprising equivocation of unspecified assaults against Arabs and actual lethal Arab terror attacks. Notably she did not refer to terrorists as such, but rather referenced "acts of terror."
Directing her sights on Netanyahu, she said, "Prime Minister, what have you done other than playing with your friends in the government to see who can ingratiate themselves more with the settler right-wing? It's been years that the residents in this city live without security."
"You can't cover your eyes and hope that things will get better. The Prime Minister also knows that there won't be a solution without Jerusalem being the capital of two states with a common urban space," she claimed.
Galon neglected to explain how a division of Jerusalem and putting it partially under the control of the PA – which ruled Gaza until it was kicked out by Hamas in 2007 – would benefit the security of Jerusalem.
However, there have been recommendations for how the government could increase the security of terror stricken capital. Jerusalem Councilman Arieh King has long called to increase the police presence in Arab majority neighborhoods and start enforcing Israeli law in them, by among other things stopping the rampant illegal Arab construction.