Israel sparks Palestinian anger with cabinet meeting near Jerusalem

Israel sparks Palestinian anger with cabinet meeting near Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continues provocative posturing over Jerusalem following celebrations of the city's 'reunification'.
2 min read
29 May, 2017
Binyahim Netanyahu is under pressure from religious hardliners over Jerusalem [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was accused of deliberately provoking Palestinians after taking the unusual step of hosting his cabinet in a disputed area of Jerusalem.

The gathering, which marked the 50th anniversary of Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem, was hosted in a tunnel near the Western Wall - Judaism's holiest site.

"Today's meeting in occupied East Jerusalem is an attempt by the Israeli government to normalise occupation, oppression and colonisation over the land and people of Palestine," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

The meeting was the latest of Netanyahu's provocations against Palestinian sensitivites around Jerusalem, which have increased under pressure from Israeli hardliners who wish to assert their country's authority over the holy city.

On Sunday, the Israeli prime minister pledged to channel more resources into developing the area around Jerusalem's Old City.

"Following the destruction of the Second Temple, this spot was the focus of the longings of our people for generations," Netanyahu said. "Thousands of years have passed, the Jewish people returned to their land, established a state and are now building its unified capital."

Netanyahu vowed at a celebration of East Jerusalem's annexation last week that Israel would never give up control of the Old City.

The Israeli leader was also boosted when US President Donald Trump recently became the first sitting holder of his office to visit to the Western Wall.

Trump's visit was taken by some Israelis as tacit recognition of their hegemony over the city, despite the White House declining an invitation for the president to join Netanyahu at the "reunification" celebrations.

Israel's annexation of Jerusalem's Old City and East Jerusalem has never been recognised by the the international community.

The continued occupation of these areas is a key point of contention between Israel and Palestine.