Tel Aviv – Launching its 50th anniversary of occupying Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israeli authorities announced that a celebration will take a few hours ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit.
The Israeli government reviewed and finalized its final preparations for the celebration, lighting up Jerusalem’s skies with laser beams, spelling out slogans marking 50 years of the “liberation” of the city.
Jerusalem Day, which falls on May 24, is a national holiday in Israel that celebrates the country’s reunification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War of 1967. Israeli authorities deliberately scheduled celebrations this year on the eve of Trump’s arrival on May 20.
Likud Minister Ze’ev Elkin said on Friday that the time has come to set the corner stone of another Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem and add another 14 settlements.
Speaking to a mass of center-right to right-wing supporters attending the Likud party pre-Jerusalem convention, Elkin said that it is a Zionist’s duty to intensify settlements in order to counter Palestinian “terrorism” led by Palestine Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Responding to criticism on wrongly timing his settlement rhetoric, given Trump’s imminent visit, Elkin said Abbas’ candidate, who won local elections in Hebron, is a an ex-convict accused of murdering nine Jewish citizens among whom were two American citizens.
Hebron’s recently elected mayor was released from Israeli prison in an exchange deal.
It is safe to say that the time is not right for peace with Palestinians, said Elkin.
This is the time to recognize a unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy to it, he added.
An Orthodox Jewish religious Zionist political party in Israel, the Jewish Home, announced that senior Jewish clerics intend to celebrate Jerusalem Day and enter Al-Aqsa Mosque in a demonstration.
The clerics will hold dawn prayers at the Mosque’s entrance and then go to the courtyard after Israeli police open the door to them.