Israeli government meeting near Jerusalem site angers Palestinians

Claudine Rigal
Mai 31, 2017

The Arab world has long accused Israel of digging beneath the Temple Mount in order to destabilize the Al Aqsa Mosque and as part of the "Juda-ization" of east Jerusalem.

The gathering, which marked the 50th anniversary of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, was hosted in a tunnel near the Western Wall - Judaism's holiest site.

Palestinians saw the meeting as a provocation.

After the 1967 war, Israel annexed east Jerusalem with the Old City home to holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, and declared all of expanded Jerusalem to be its capital.

Israel's annexation of Jerusalem's Old City and East Jerusalem has never been recognised by the the worldwide community.

The area is flashpoint for both sides.

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, condemned Israel for holding its weekly cabinet meeting at the site.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said that Israel must maintain its military control over the West Bank in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Israeli infrastructure projects in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank draw harsh criticism from the Palestinians and many in the global community. "We will establish a special new cable vehicle tourism project starting from The First Station Complex to Dung Gate", he said, "we will approve building an elevator to the Western Wall making it handicapped accessible". "Thousands of years have passed, the Jewish people returned to their land, established a state and are now building its unified capital". "Palestinians see this as the entire Israeli government saying, 'Now we are just below the wall, but we want to push ahead'".

"He called on the United Nations and the global community to deter Israel and stop its provocative behavior, respect the status quo in Jerusalem and holy places and hold its responsibility to end the occupation for all".

The following day, President Trump became the first sitting USA president in more than a century to visit the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed to mark the site of Jesus' crucifixion.

Jerusalem Day is an Israeli annual holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem.

Mitnick is a special correspondent.

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