News / Middle East

Israel Marks Jerusalem Day, Defends Claim to City

Israel is celebrating the 43rd anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, while the city's boundaries continue to be a source of tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan on June 7, 1967, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.  Wednesday's observances marked the anniversary according to the Hebrew calendar.   

Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem has not been internationally recognized, and Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In a speech marking the occasion, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized what he described as the Jewish people's "unbreakable bond" with the city.

He also vowed that settlement construction would continue in the east.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said the city's boundaries are not negotiable.

Palestinians have demanded that Israel cease construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a condition for direct peace talks.

Also Wednesday, Israel's internal security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said the demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem will take place as planned this week.

Aharonovitch said during a meeting of Israel's Knesset there are no directives to halt the demolition orders.  He noted that in the past, such action was postponed for political reasons.

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

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