Israel “strongly rejects” pressure not to build in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after days of unrest and growing international condemnation of planned forced evictions Palestinians from houses in the city claimed by illegal Jewish settlers.
Netanyahu’s comments came on Sunday as Israel’s justice ministry said it was delaying a key hearing on Monday into the case of Palestinian residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
“In all the circumstances and in light of the request of the Attorney General, the ordinary hearing tomorrow, May 10, 2021 [is] canceled, ”he said in a statement, adding that he would organize a new hearing within 30 days.
Tensions around the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have fueled daily clashes in recent days.
Washington said on Saturday it was “deeply concerned” and wanted “authorities to approach residents … with compassion and respect.”
East Jerusalem is among the territories Palestinians seek for a future state. US-sponsored state-building negotiations with Israel were stalled in 2014. Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital – an unrecognized status abroad.
“We strongly reject the pressure not to build in Jerusalem. To my regret, that pressure has increased lately, ”Netanyahu said in a televised speech ahead of nationwide commemorations of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.
“I also say to the best of our friends: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and just like every nation that builds in its capital and builds its capital, we also have the right to build in Jerusalem and to build Jerusalem. This is what we have done and this is what we will continue to do, ”Netanyahu said.
Palestinian medics say at least 90 people injured on Saturday after Israeli police repressed on Palestinian protesters outside the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem.
The crackdown came as nearly 90,000 Muslim worshipers prayed in the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam’s holy night of Laylat al-Qadr – or Night of Fate – the most sacred of prayers during the month of Muslim fasting of Ramadan.
The violence came after the Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque and injured more than 200 Palestinians on Friday evening. Israeli forces said 17 of their officers had been wounded in the past two days.
Netanyahu said that Israel allows freedom of worship, but “we will not allow any extremist element to disrupt the peace in Jerusalem … We will not allow violent unrest.”
Akiva Eldar, Israeli journalist and author, told Al Jazeera: “We don’t have light at the end of the tunnel because there is no tunnel because there is no peace process. . “
“East Jerusalem is occupied, it is not Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem, it has not been recognized by the international community, so we are sitting on a volcano.”
Separately, Israeli police gave the green light on Sunday for the annual Jerusalem Day parade, a display waving the flag of Israeli demands throughout the city.
About 30,000 Jewish settlers are expected to take part in a march to the Damascus Gate in the Old City on Monday.
Amos Gilad, a former senior military official, told army radio that the parade should be canceled or diverted from the Old City Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and can explode at any time.”
Monday’s parade is typically followed by die-hard nationalist Israelis and is widely seen as provocative.
Pope Francis has called for an end to the violence in Jerusalem, saying he is following events there with concern and urging the parties to seek solutions in order to respect the multicultural identity of the Holy City.
“Violence breeds violence, stop the clashes,” the Pope told pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome on Sunday.