(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has just as much right to build in Jerusalem as France has to build in Paris.
Speaking at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session Monday, Netanyahu said Israel “has the full right to build the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” the Times of Israel reported.
“The French build in Paris, the English build in London, the Israelis build in Jerusalem. Should we tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem because it will stir things up?” he asked.
Netanyahu recently recommended that plans for about 1,000 housing units in eastern Jerusalem move forward. Israel’s Channel 2 news reported that Netanyahu is also in negotiations with right-wing politicians and settler leaders seeking approval for a large West Bank development project, including 2,000 new units, 12 new roads, parks, student villages and renovation of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
“The violence against us is not an outcome of the building in Jerusalem,” he said. “Terror comes from our enemies’ desire that we shouldn’t be here at all, in no place and in no part of Jerusalem. Not in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Since the dawn of Zionism, construction has been the natural and crushing answer to those who are harassing our existence and want to uproot us from our land. They want death, and we build here for life.”
Knesset members from two Arab parties and a mixed Arab-Jewish party boycotted the opening, citing racism and incitement against them, the Times of Israel reported.