Jerusalem: Israeli ministers held a special cabinet meeting to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Jerusalem`s re-unification amid a damning report which claimed that 78 per cent of Palestinians in the eastern part of the city captured by Israel in the 1967 war live in poverty.
The weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was held at Ammunition Hill in east Jerusalem, a former Jordanian military post that saw some of the bloodiest fighting in the war, as a symbolic gesture.
Celebrations lined up throughout the day sent the city`s traffic into disarray as formal ceremonies, parties and the annual flag march was witnessed by bystanders throughout the day.
Israel, which annexed eastern part of the city which houses some of the holiest sites for Muslims, Christians and the Jews alike, claims united Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided capital," contrary to the popular international opinion which foresees east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Several memorial ceremonies are lined up to be held throughout the city today for those who fell during the Six-Day War, followed by the flag march which normally draws tens of thousands of marchers, many of them religious Zionist nationalists.
During the meeting the Israeli cabinet decided to allocate 350 million shekels (USD 91 million) to create public spaces in Jerusalem over the next six years in a bid to develop tourism and infrastructure, the Prime Minister`s Office said.
"The decisions that we are making today will continue this government`s considerable investments in Jerusalem in recent years, the results of which we already see today," Netanyahu said.
"These investments will help give expression to Jerusalem`s vast potential as a focus for global tourism and will greatly contribute to the development and strength of Israel`s capital," he said.
According to figures released by Central Bureau of Statistics for Jerusalem Day, the city is the largest in Israel and has a population of 801,000.
Sixty two per cent of Jerusalem`s population comprises of Jews, 35 per cent Muslims, 2 per cent Christians and the remaining 9,000 are marked as unclassified.
Meanwhile, a report by a non-governmental agency published in daily Ha`aretz today said that 78 per cent of Palestinians living in the city, 84 per cent of whom are children, live under the poverty line.
The report published by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that the 360,000 Palestinian residents of the Holy city, 38 per cent of Jerusalem`s total population, have reached the highest poverty rate ever in 2011.
In 2006, 64 per cent of the Palestinian population and 73 per cent of the children lived under the poverty line, the report cited.
The report, titled "Policies of Neglect in East Jerusalem" points out "limited employment opportunities, a severely depleted educational system, and a systematic lack of physical and economic infrastructure."
The main reason for the poverty, according to the report, is the high unemployment rate among Palestinians which has seen 40 per cent men without jobs and among women it goes as high as 85 per cent.