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Israeli Group Says Government Plan Cements Hold on Jerusalem


An Israeli rights group says a government plan to develop parks and tourist sites in east Jerusalem will significantly change the landscape of the contested city and cement Israel's hold there.

The group, Ir Amim, said Sunday the government plan will dramatically alter an area that is home to sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. It said it appears the changes are being made in order to strengthen Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it. Palestinians hope to make east Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Ir Amim says the Israeli government has largely kept the plan secret and has not solicited input from the city's Christians and Muslims or held any public discussions on the matter.

The Israeli government says the new development will benefit all of Jerusalem's residents.

The report by Ir Amim comes ahead of Pope Benedict's first visit to Jerusalem on Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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