Day to celebrate the Eternal City
Under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which proposed the establishment of two states in the British Mandate of Palestine─a Jewish state and an Arab state─Jerusalem was to be an international city for a period of ten years. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan, including the internationalization of Jerusalem, but the Arabs rejected the proposal. By the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem was left divided between Israel and Jordan as Jordan occupied the Old City and East Jerusalem.
During the Six-Day War, Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967. In the same day, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared what is often quoted during Jerusalem Day, Yom Yerushalayim:
“This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors, we extend, also at this hour─and with added emphasis at this hour─our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faith, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.”
In 1968, the government proclaimed Jerusalem Day to be celebrated for the divided city becoming one, and in 1998, passed the Jerusalem Day Law. The theme of Jerusalem Day is based on Psalm 122:3: “Jerusalem that is built as a city that is compact together.”