By Ryan Jones
As Israel marked the 44th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Israel would never allow the city to be again divided.
"Forty-four years ago, IDF soldiers realized the prophets' vision and returned Jerusalem to its proper place," Netanyahu said, referring to the liberation of the eastern half of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.
Speaking at Jerusalem's Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which has long been at the forefront of religious Zionism, Netanyahu continued:
"Jerusalem will never be divided. There's nothing more holy to us than Jerusalem, we'll protect Jerusalem, it's unity, and we'll build and develop it."
US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have been pushing hard to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks based on Arab demands that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders.
For its part, the Palestinian leadership insists it will never sign a peace deal with Israel that does not include the full surrender of the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.
But a Jerusalem Day poll revealed that a strong majority of Israelis remain firmly behind Netanyahu's policies, and do not agree to divide Jerusalem even as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.
Conducted by the Geocartography Knowledge Group on behalf of Israel's Channel One News, the survey showed that 66 percent of Israelis oppose handing over any part of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority.
A 23 percent minority said they would be willing to surrender Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, a compromise the Palestinian Authority has already rejected.
An even larger 73 percent majority opposed placing Jerusalem's holy sites under international control, a proposal that first came up during former US President Bill Clinton's oversight of the peace process.
Rather than talk about how to divide Jerusalem, 67 percent of Israelis want to simply get on with building up and developing the city as the capital of Israel.
Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day: We'll Continue to Build Jerusalem - Arutz Sheva
PM: Divided J’lem ‘suffocates,’ united J’lem ‘blossoms’ - Jerusalem Post
Netanyahu: Arabs and Jews alike benefit from unified Jerusalem - Ha'aretz
Bank of Israel raises GDP growth forecast to 5.2% - Globes
Thousands take part in Jerusalem Day march - YnetNews