Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Jerusalem will always be the capital of the Jewish the people, and only Israeli rule can ensure religious freedom in a city considered holy ground by Jews, Muslims and Christians. “We need to tell the truth, without fear,” Netanyahu said in commemoration of Jerusalem Day, the Jerusalem Post reported. “This is where we began our path as a nation, this is our home, and this is where we will stay.”
Netanyahu also said only under Israeli rule "is the freedom of worship in Jerusalem guaranteed for all religions," Haaretz reported. "Believers pray at their holy sites, not despite our control over the city but because of it.”
Nearly five decades since Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War, the city remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The international community does not recognize East Jerusalem as Israeli territory, and Palestinians view the city as the would-be capital of a future state of their own.
The prime minister said the city never again would be “wounded and split,” the Post reported.
“We will forever preserve an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu said.
On a day that is often typified by outbreaks of unrest, some 30,000 Israelis marched through majority-Muslim sections of the city, and police clashed with Palestinian protesters who threw rocks at the procession, Reuters reported. Authorities arrested six Palestinians.