Netanyahu defends Jerusalem plans as concern mounts over clashes
Supreme court delays hearing on the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem neighbourhood
Jerusalem — Israel “firmly rejects” pressure not to build in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following days of unrest and spreading international condemnation of planned evictions of Palestinians in the city.
Israel’s supreme court on Sunday delayed a hearing on the eviction of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The tensions have spilt over into clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians around Al-Aqsa, Islam's third-holiest mosque, at the height of the Ramadan fasting month.
On Saturday night, Palestinian youth threw stones, lit fires and tore down police barricades in the streets leading to the walled Old City gates as officers on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades and water cannons to repel them.
Netanyahu said Israel allows freedom of worship but “we will not allow any extremist element to disturb the peace in Jerusalem.... We will not allow violent unrest.”
Washington said on Saturday it was “deeply concerned” and wanted “authorities to approach the residents ... with compassion and respect”.
Jordan urged Israel on Sunday to stop what it described as “barbaric” attacks on worshippers at al-Aqsa mosque and said it would step up international pressure.
East Jerusalem is among territories that Palestinians seek for a future state. US-sponsored statehood negotiations with Israel stalled in 2014. Israel deems of all Jerusalem its capital.
“We firmly reject the pressure not to build in Jerusalem. To my regret, this pressure has been increasing of late,” Netanyahu said during a televised address ahead of national commemorations of the Israeli capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war,” Netanyahu said.
Pope Francis called for an end to violence in Jerusalem, saying he was following events there with concern and inviting parties to seek solutions to respect the multicultural identity of the Holy City.
“Violence breeds violence, stop clashes,” the pope said at St Peter's Square in Rome on Sunday.
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