Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a special Cabinet meeting at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday, in honor of Jerusalem Day.
"I remember how I came here as a youth," he began. "Since then there has been dramatic development, of course, and this magnificent cultural institution has been established the fiftieth anniversary of which we are celebrating."
"This institution reflects three things: First, it shows our link to the land in the most dramatic exhibit, one of humanity's most important archaeological finds – the Dead Sea Scrolls," he continued. "While there are also many other finds that teach about our connection to our land, this exhibit, given its cultural and historical significance, is without peer."
"The second thing that we see here is the great cultural treasure of the Jewish People in the country and around the world," he said. "Of course, this symbolizes our contribution to humanity."
"The third thing that we see here is the culture of humanity as a whole as seen in amazing artistic and archaeological exhibits that also, perhaps, find expression in the fact that there is an exhibit here about the brief history of humankind," he added. "It is based on a provocative and interesting book that was written – I believe – by a professor here in Israel."
"These three things, I note them in order to how the great difference between the cultural flowering, the cultural freedom and the cultural creativity in the State of Israel and what is happening around us – the destruction of cultural treasures, the destruction of the idea of freedom, and the physical destruction of people in an effort to destroy ideas, by Islamic fanatics," he continued, referring to Islamic State (ISIS)'s systemic destruction of Syrian cities and landmarks. "We promote culture at home and defend ourselves and – in my opinion – humanity as a whole from outside threats."
Netanyahu then turned to Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, who was also present.
"This is connected to continuing to deal with Jerusalem, Mr. Mayor," he said. "Together we are working on great momentum in many areas and in many cultural institutions, and in the highway to Jerusalem."
"Everyone sees this," he continued. "You see this as you travel here, and not just to Jerusalem, to around it, in its accessibility and in the railway that we are laying through the hills."
"This is the development that we are advancing in the heart of Jerusalem, in its neighborhoods, including those on its outskirts, and there is still much to do," he concluded. "I am certain that we will hear from you. I would like to congratulate you on this important effort and also tell you that we will persist on this, with all government ministers."
The Prime Minister then addressed the key issues of Jerusalem itself, speaking hours after he sparred with Opposition Leader Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) over keeping Jerusalem united.
"We will make several important decisions today about the development of Jerusalem just as we always do on its festive day, on the day of its liberation," he said. "We do not wish to go backwards and those speak with nostalgia about those days apparently do not live here."
"We will not go back to a divided city, a torn city, a city with barbed wire fences and snipers on the walls. This will not happen and we will see to it that it does not happen," he continued. "This is not to say that there are no problems or tasks – there are many, there is also distress. We want to provide solutions and we will continue to develop it at the same pace that we see around us."
Netanyahu also briefly addressed the issue of Ethiopian Israelis, who once again demonstrated in Tel Aviv Monday night.
"Today the Cabinet will appoint several ministerial committees," he said. "We have much work to do."
"I have asked to form a ministerial committee under my leadership to deal with the plight of Israeli citizens of Ethiopian descent," he added. "They deserve equal treatment, they have rights and we will see to it that they enjoy these rights like all Israeli citizens."