Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reaffirmed his intent to keep Jerusalem the "undivided capital" of Israel, authorising a USD 100-million investment package for the disputed holy city.
Speaking at a special meeting of his cabinet held inside the Old City walls, Netanyahu repeatedly vowed that he would not divide the city, despite international pressure for Israel and the Palestinians to share Jerusalem.
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, later annexing it in a move not recognised by the international community.
It marks the city`s "reunification" on Jerusalem Day, which this year falls on June 01.
"The city was united 44 years ago, and we returned to our ancestral lands. Since then Jerusalem has flourished," Netanyahu said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting at the Tower of David museum in the Old City.
"Today we are strengthening its foundations and assisting its residents," he said announcing the multi-year package, which includes funding to boost tourism, grants for students, and incentives for bio-technology companies.
"It is important the entire world knows that the Jewish people and our friends around the world stand together, faithful to Jerusalem and our heritage, steadfast in their positions, insisting on our security and extending a hand in genuine peace to our neighbours," Netanyahu said.
"We will rehabilitate heritage sites that are important to the state of Israel and our people," he said, adding that "the government and the people are bound as one to build up Jerusalem, the heart of the nation."
Israeli projects in Jerusalem are often controversial, with the Palestinians describing them as attempts to strengthen Israeli control over the eastern part of the city.
Israel captured east Jerusalem on June 07, 1967, the third day of the Six Day War, and unilaterally annexed the sector.
It has since established settlement neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem and even passed a law in 1980 stating Jerusalem is Israel`s "eternal and indivisible" capital.
Israeli human rights groups say Palestinian residents of Jerusalem suffer from discrimination, in particular being routinely denied housing permits.
Israeli projects in east Jerusalem have frequently sparked clashes between police and Palestinians in flashpoint neighbourhoods including Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.
And Israel`s ongoing authorisation of settlement construction in neighbourhoods in the city`s eastern sector has drawn criticism from the Palestinians and the international community.