Jerusalem will remain united regardless of any future negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared Monday.
"48 years ago we fought a marvelous defensive war, during which we consolidated Jerusalem," Netanyahu stated, during a special Knesset session held in honor of Jerusalem Day (Sunday). "Jerusalem will not be divided again, it will not return to becoming a battlefield and a city of storybooks."
Netanyahu addressed the issue of building in Jerusalem, stressing that it is the right of Israel to do so.
"We are building all over the city, including in the Arab neighborhoods," he noted. "We do not build in Jerusalem to confront the international community, we do it responsibly and judiciously and that is our natural right."
"Everyone can understand what will happen if we listen to the advice that we disengage from [Jerusalem] or parts of it," he continued. "We know what happens in the Middle East when an area is evacuated; it becomes violent and barbaric."
"What remains on the other hand is just one option that would ensure the free atmosphere of Jerusalem and that is Israel's sovereignty," he continued.
During his speech, Netanyahu turned to Labor chairman Isaac Herzog and attacked the Opposition leader's opinion on construction in Jerusalem.
"This is an opportunity, my opposition leader, to clarify your position," he said. "During the election you said you'd keep Jerusalem united, but you also said that in your opinion there'd be two apartments there. What is your position on building in all parts of Jerusalem?"
Herzog vowed not to return Jerusalem to a state of war as well.
"Jerusalem will always be Israel's great Hebrew capital city – diverse, vibrant, thriving, flourishing and growing, the focus of faith and the very heart of the Jewish people throughout history – past, present and future," he said, according to Walla! News. "War is war, and victory in the most successful campaign in which the city was unified there was a price. The road to achieving unity involved heroism and sacrifice, blood and bereavement."
Despite his grand words, Herzog then accused Netanyahu of paying lip service to the idea of a true united Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is a city whose population is bi-national and beliefs differ," he insisted. "It's a city with a wide gap between East and West. It is very easy to declare and swear that we will have united Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, but to make it really like that […] these are insufficient declarations."
"The reality is the unity is simulated, not real, very far from the biggest announcements," he claimed. "There is no dearth of those who add flash points of nationalist ideology, but they are in sharp contrast to the vision of peace and connection between parts of the city."