Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an event marking Jerusalem Day on Sunday that it was thanks to Israeli sovereignty that Jerusalem is a city that welcomes all three major religions.
"Only because of Israeli sovereignty is Jerusalem a city open to all three religions," he said, referring to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. "We will continue to look after Jerusalem, its security, its prosperity and its unity."
Jerusalem Day in an Israeli national holiday commemorating the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Jerusalem Day flag march in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City took place in relative calm on Sunday evening, following earlier concerns of friction between Jewish revelers and local Arab residents
"The Western Wall won't be abandoned and our brave ties to the Temple Mount won't be denied," Netanyahu said. He then slammed a recent UNESCO resolution that referred to the Temple Mount area solely as the Al-Aqsa Mosque while ignoring Jewish historical ties to Jerusalem and its holy sites, calling it "absurd" and "ignorant."
Referring to the summit on Middle East peace that took place in Paris last Friday, Netanyahu said that only direct negotiations would bear results.
"The State of Israel wants peace. I want peace. I'm interested in renewing a diplomatic process with the purpose of achieving peace. But if peace is to be achieved it will be through direct negotiations between us and our neighbors, at the end of which they will acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as the Jewish nation state."
"Peace is reached in directed and free negotiations between the sides, we've seen that. The peace with Egypt and Jordan wasn’t reached by international dictates. Our leaders knew that. When the military campaign in the Six-Day War ended, a diplomatic campaign began," he said.
International dictates would only make the Palestinians become more extreme in their positions, he said.
"Whoever turns the Temple Mount into an epicenter of religious violence and doesn’t renounce terror has a long way to go to reach peace," Netanyahu said.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now