JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli leaders vowed that all of Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided capital amid protests by eastern Jerusalem Arabs and their supporters.
"United Jerusalem is Israel’s capital," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday during a state ceremony at Ammunition Hill to mark Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the city in 1967. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided."
Israel annexed Jerusalem shortly after the Six-Day War.
"Israel will never have another capital other than Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will never be the capital of another people," President Shimon Peres asserted during the ceremony at Ammunition Hill, the site of a major battle and now a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.
Hundreds of protesters gathered Thursday afternoon at the Damascus gate of the Old City of Jerusalem wall carrying Palestinian flags and signs against the national holiday. An annual march through the streets of the city was scheduled to begin late Thursday afternoon.
Some of the protesters signs read "Jerusalem — not a celebration for everyone," "Wake up from the fantasy of unification" and "Building in the west — demolishing in the east."
"Calling it ‘Jerusalem Day,’ as if all the residents are happy with the situation, is one big lie," Meretz Jerusalem City Council member Meir Margalit told the protesters, Ynet reported. "It could be called ‘Jerusalem Day for the Jews.’ "