Netanyahu: Israel Will Not Allow Terrorists to Disrupt Calm in Yerushalayim

Israeli police officers throw stun grenades at protesters during clashes at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Yerushalayim on Motzoei Shabbos. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel “firmly rejects” pressure not to build in Yerushalayim, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday following days of unrest and spreading international condemnation of planned evictions of Palestinians from homes in the city.

Tensions over Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Eastern Yerushalayim have stoked daily confrontations. Washington said Saturday it was “deeply concerned” and wanted “authorities to approach the residents … with compassion and respect.”

“We firmly reject the pressure not to build in Yerushalayim. To my regret, this pressure has been increasing of late,” Netanyahu said during an address ahead of national commemorations of Jerusalem Day.

“I say also to the best of our friends: Yerushalayim is Israel‘s capital and just as every nation builds in its capital and builds up its capital, we also have the right to build in Yerushalayim and to build up Yerushalayim. That is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do,” Netanyahu said.

On Motzoei Shabbos, Palestinian youth threw stones, lit fires and tore down police barricades in the streets leading to the Old City gates as officers on horseback and in riot gear used stun grenades and water cannons to repel them.

Netanyahu said Israel allows freedom of worship but “we will not allow any extremist element to disturb the peace in Yerushalayim. … We will not allow violent unrest.”