Jerusalem Marks First Official U.S. Independence Day Event

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attended the first official event ever held in Jerusalem in honor of America’s Independence Day. The celebration was hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who deemed it to be the “biggest Independence Day party ever.”

The Israeli Premier and the American envoy both expressed praise of U.S. President Donald Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Ambassador Friedman also underscored the unbreakable bond and shared values between the two nations. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hailed the alliance between the Jewish State and the U.S., which he said has reached new heights. The Israel leader noted that American support for his country crosses party lines, and stressed it is critical that backing remains bipartisan.

Netanyahu went on to speak of this week’s visit to the Old City of Jerusalem, when he and his wife Sara were accompanied by the Friedmans and other senior U.S. officials, including Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. The group attended the opening of an excavated road identified by archaeologists as the route taken by Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem two millennia ago. Friedman and Greenblatt were among those who wielded hammers to break through a wall opening an underground passage to the Temple Mount – revered as the holiest site in Judaism where both Biblical Temples once stood.

The Prime Minister described the site as “the wellspring of our existence,” and  “a place that leads from the Siloam pool to Har Habayit [the Temple Mount] where our ancestors celebrated the various festivals of Jerusalem and where the last Jews fighting the Romans, fighting this greatest power on earth, submitted and where Jewish independence was extinguished.”

He added “Well, we’re back, and we’re back standing for the truth, for our history, for our rights and it’s wonderful to have the greatest power on earth not opposing the Jewish State but supporting the Jewish State. What a twist.”

The Israeli leader also thanked the government of Bahrain for hosting last week’s U.S.-led economic workshop aimed at advancing regional peace and prosperity. He said that comments from Manama’s foreign minister recognizing Israel as part of the Middle East is a marked change that should be applauded, adding “I want the people of Israel, the citizens of Israel, to know that we welcome them [Bahrain].”

Netanyahu went on to say that it “was encouraging to see numerous Arab governments participate in the workshop, despite Palestinian efforts to undermine it.” Despite acknowledging his hesitation to “repeat a cliché,” the Israeli leader noted that “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They just did another one. Again the Palestinian leadership held the prosperity of their own people hostage to their ideology against Israel.”

He then expressed hope “the Palestinian leadership chooses a different course,” and called on Ramallah to follow Jerusalem in ‘keeping an open mind” rather than reject President Trump’s peace initiative before even having seen it.

Netanyahu said that he is “looking forward to working with President Trump and his administration to advance peace, prosperity and security.” After underling that “Security comes first,” the Prime Minister stressed that “peace and prosperity can come too – if there’s a willingness finally on the Palestinian side to abandon the goal of destroying Israel – and once and for all to recognize the Jewish state,” concluding “That’s the problem and that’s the solution.”