JERUSALEM, May 26 (JTA) — Clashes over building in Jerusalem’s Old City have marred a festive atmosphere marking the anniversary of the city’s reunification. Israeli police clashed with Palestinians demonstrators Tuesday who had torn down one of nine tin shacks erected overnight by members of Ateret Cohanim in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. Several members of the Palestinian legislative council, who had left a meeting in Ramallah to join the protesters, were caught in the melee. “The Israeli government and the United States should know that the Palestinian people’s patience is running out,” said Ahmed Karia, the council’s speaker. “We won’t accept a peace that comes at the expense of our land and our rights.” Ateret Cohanim, a group that seeks to bolster the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem, said it owns the plot where its members had set up the shacks after pouring concrete foundations to build permanent structures. The move was intended as a response to the murder earlier this month of Haim Kerman, who was a student at the group’s yeshiva. “We decided the only way left to show how we are fighting for Jerusalem and its unity is to build,” said Klila Har Noi, a spokesperson for Ateret Cohanim. However the settlers stopped construction work at midday, after police presented a temporary court injunction. The court had issued the order, at the request of the Israel Antiquities Authority, on the grounds that the construction was taking place without a permit and was causing damage to the Old City’s ancient walls. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said any construction must be within the framework of the law. “I expect Ateret Cohanim to tear down the structures, otherwise, we will have to do it on our own,” he told Israel Radio. Peace Now activists also demonstrated against Ateret Cohanim near the site . After the violence, Israel’s public security minister, Avigdor Kahalani, phoned Karia to discuss ways to restore calm and reduce the tensions. Two days earlier, Israel staged its largest military parade in years to mark the capture of eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. Some 30,000 people took part in the annual Jerusalem Day commemorations, which also included memorial ceremonies for the soldiers who died during the capture of the eastern part of the city. Netanyahu, speaking at a memorial ceremony for the fallen soldiers, reiterated that Israel would never give up sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem or the pre-1967 borders. “Israel will never return to indefensible borders, with its back to the sea, and Jerusalem will never again be divided,” he said. Thousands of soldiers, veterans and military vehicles took part in the Jerusalem Day procession, which made its way from the walls of the Old City to a park near the Knesset. Thousands of Israelis participated — waving flags, dancing in the streets and filling the sidewalks to watch the colorful procession, made more elaborate this year in honor of Israel’s jubilee. The show of military prowess during the celebrations was condemned by Palestinian and Jordanian officials, who said the ceremonies were a provocation.
Israelis, Palestinians clash over construction in Old City