netanyahu speaks jerusalem day 248 88.
(photo credit: GPO)
One day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed never to divide Jerusalem, and pledged to keep the capital united under Israeli sovereignty, the French harshly condemned the comments, insisting instead that Jerusalem be a capital shared by the Palestinians and Israel.
"The declaration which the Israeli prime minister issued yesterday derives from prejudice regarding the final status agreement," Foreign Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said on Friday.
"In the eyes of France, Jerusalem needs to turn into a capital for two states," he continued, emphasizing that French President Nicholas Sarkozy made the same point last year.
"Activities like destroying Palestinian houses and expulsion of Arab citizens encourage violence," the spokesperson said. "They are unacceptable, and against international law."
During an official state ceremony marking Jerusalem Day on Thursday, Netanyahu had vowed that the capital would never again be divided.
"Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided," he said while marking the reunification of the city during the Six-Day War 42 years ago.
"Only under Israeli sovereignty will united Jerusalem ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places," Netanyahu added.
The prime minister prefaced his remarks with a reference to his meetings with US President Barack Obama and other American officials earlier in the week, saying he had made the same declarations during that trip.
In an earlier address, President Shimon Peres said that Jerusalem, while sacred to others, is the only capital Israel and the Jewish people have ever known.
"Jerusalem is held sacred by half of mankind [but] it has been and always will be Israel's capital. We never had another and it has never been the capital of any other people."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat lauded Netanyahu for his opposition to dividing Jerusalem.
"With the world examining us let it be said here: We will never divide Jerusalem," Barkat said.