Today (Monday), September 18, 2017, a cornerstone-laying ceremony took place for the construction of military colleges adjacent to ‘Hakfar Hashvedi’ in Jerusalem, attended by Minister of Defense Mr. Avigdor Liberman, Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and members of the General Staff Forum. During the ceremony, a building plan was presented and it was explained how it relates to the purpose of the colleges. The Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff, and the mayor of Jerusalem signed a copy of the charter and buried it in the foundations of the cornerstone.
Throughout the world, as well as in Israel, military colleges are state institutions, whose place in the capital is an expression of independence and the capital’s supremacy. Its proximity to Mt. Herzl and Yad Vashem is a symbolic closeness expressing historical continuity with the Shoah, future rebirth, and the strengthening of Jerusalem.
Minister of Defense, Avigdor Liberman: “As someone who has watched the IDF from the sidelines since ’96, I can say that from the perspective of the army’s level of preparedness, today it is unparalleled. I followed the work of the Cabinet and the work of the Government closely from ’96 until today. Now, from the perspective of military preparedness, I am able to say with full confidence, to the credit of the Chief of Staff and the generals of the Chiefs of Staff, we are much better prepared now than ever before, and it will not end here. We will probably have to prepare even more in light of the developments and the declarations that we heard today.
In his time, Menachem Begin made one of the most important statements, “The Land of Israel was bought not by virtue of force, but by force of right,” and Jerusalem is our right and the source of our strength and power, and we are simply going to exercise it. I think that the combination of these colleges, which are the most important schools for IDF commanders – who on the day of command take responsibility, give orders, lead people—here in Jerusalem, in the beating heart of the Jewish people, of the State of Israel, this is the most important combination.”
Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot: “The choice to establish the military college base specifically here, in the city of Jerusalem, which just now marked the jubilee of its reunification, testifies to the close relationship between the IDF and the nation and its heritage. In this location, thousands of commanders will be trained to defend the state, safeguard its existence, and win wars. At the end of the training process, the commanders return to the heart of the military industry as professional commanders possessing with a wider range of military-strategic knowledge than ever before, who can make intelligent decisions and know how to lead our soldiers wisely and courageously both during peace and wartime. Commanders who work together each and every day to strengthen the army and ensure the quiet and safety of the State of Israel. Presently, the strategic map changes almost unrecognizably, and the IDF is following developments across our borders and working to guarantee the competence of our forces and their preparedness for any event. As part of that, last week a wide-ranging, multi-branch exercise took place in which regular and reserve forces practiced their defensive and attacking capabilities on the home front and deep in enemy territory. We will continue to act at all times to improve the state of security and, at the same time, we will establish our abilities to defend ourselves and decide if we need to utilize those abilities. This year, the IDF’s commanders and soldiers will continue to act with determination and force to fulfill the mission of defending the State of Israel. May it be a good and blessed new year.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said at the ceremony that “this is a historic day for Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s united capital, about which we have dreamed for more than 3000 years, is the natural place for educating the next generation of IDF officers and commanders. Here the past and present of the State of Israel meet. The IDF colleges will constitute a significant anchor for the neighborhoods surrounding them, Kiryat Yovel and Kiryat Menachem, and the hundreds of officers who come to Jerusalem will reinforce the status of the city and of the Zionist sector and young families. We will continue with all our might to restore all governmental and state institutions to the capital of Israel in order to reinforce Jerusalem’s status.”
Earlier Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, hosted Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, and members of the Chief of Staff Forum, on a tour of the new Jerusalem Business District that the Jerusalem Municipality is constructing in the entryway to the city. Members of the Chief of Staff Forum toured around 250 meters of underground tunnels designed for a 5-level parking structure with 1,300 parking spots, as well as the level separation for vehicles on Shazar street, whose goal is to produce an integrated system for public and private transportation, as well as pedestrians. The district, in which ₪1.4 billion has been invested, will span over approximately 300 dunams, will be used for offices, hotels, and cultural and recreational institutions, and will serve as a link between strategic areas in the city—the IDF colleges, the Government Quarter, the city center, and the Old City.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat: “The project that we are building is a ‘tie breaker’ for Jerusalem. It is the largest, most significant, and most essential project for Jerusalem’s future. 60,000 new places of work in an area that is seven times the size of the Azrieli Towers, with the most accessible and advanced transportation center in Israel, the largest convention center in the Middle East, the largest high-tech and business center in Israel, with Israeli and international companies. The Jerusalem after completion of the new business district will be different from that before the construction—a city that alongside its wonderful history is changing from end to end—from decay to growth and economic empowerment, from negative emigration to an attractive city to young people, and from a resource-depleted city to a stronger, competitive, and leading city that is accelerating economically and standing on its own two feet—for future generations.”