Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres addressed a crowd of over 30,000 people yesterday at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem.
Speaking to spectators and athletes from over 70 countries, Mr Peres said: “We have come from different places, but we belong to the same family,”
A family whose face is always turned towards Jerusalem, the eternal capital of our people, the capital of justice and peace.”
Mr Netanyahu added that the Maccabiah, the world’s largest Jewish athletics competition, “represents the spirit of unity of the Jewish people”.
He said: “It’s the first time that the Maccabiah is not only opening in Jerusalem, but many of the games are also taking place in Jerusalem, our indivisible capital.”
“Year after year, Jews from around the world say, ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ but today, all of those who came here for the 19th Maccabiah Games can say, ‘This year in Jerusalem,’ Israel’s undivided capital.”
Video messages from President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron were also broadcast to crowds at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium. Both wished Peres a happy 90th birthday and Mr Obama praised him as “an example of vitality and dedication to all of us, his legacy embodies the essence of these games”.
Crowds were treated to performances by Rami Kleinstein, one of Israel’s most respected composers, award-winning violinist Miri Ben Ari and Canadian-born singer and winner of The Voice-Israel Kathleen Reiter.