Twenty parliamentarians from around the world signed a declaration in Atarot on Sunday supporting the “sovereign right of the State of Israel to build in its indivisible capital of Jerusalem.”
The parliamentarians visited Atarot as part of the Israel Allies Foundation’s Chairman’s Conference, which kicked off on Sunday and runs through March 23.
The Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) coordinates a network of more than 50 Israel Allies caucuses worldwide, including the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, and caucuses in Europe, Latin America, Australia and Africa. Around 20 caucus chairs are on the trip and a handful of other caucus members and supporters.
The caucuses are focused on three key issues, according to Israel Allies Foundation President Josh Reinstein: fighting antisemitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement; fighting against the threat of a nuclear Iran; and standing with an undivided Jerusalem.
The mission specifically visited Atarot “to make a statement” against a decision last year to shelve plans to build 9,000 housing units at the site of the abandoned Atarot airport amid pressure from Washington, Reinstein said.
Atarot is located south of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr 'Aqab, which although part of Jerusalem that was annexed in 1967, sits on the other side of the security border.
Israel stopped using the Atarot airport for civilian purposes due to security concerns during the second intifada. Today, it lays abandoned and in disarray, with shards of old glass and rubble carpeting its floor.
"This is a significant opportunity for us to convey a joint message with members of parliament from the Americas, Europe and Africa who are lovers of Israel in the hope of increasing the international support for Israel and the development of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty," said Chaim Silberstein, chairman of the "KeepJerusalem" organization, who helped initiate the visit to Atarot.
The signed declaration was presented to MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who co-chairs the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus with MK Sharren Haskel (New Hope).
“As far as Jerusalem is concerned,” Edelstein told the crowd on receiving the declaration, “I don’t know of any west or east Jerusalem. We are not in a geography lesson. There is one Jerusalem: the united, eternal capital of the State of Israel.”
In addition to their visit to Atarot, the mission traveled to the Western Wall, the City of David, Psagot Winergy and Samuel’s Tomb Complex on Sunday.
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