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Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 22:23 UK

Jerusalem will always be Israel's, says PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Mr Netanyahu marked 42 years since Jerusalem was annexed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Jerusalem will never again be divided, at a ceremony marking 42 years of annexation.

"United Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided," he said.

The US has always said Jerusalem's fate should be negotiated as part of a peace plan with the Palestinians.

Earlier, Israeli police demolished illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu spoke at a ceremony commemorating 42 years since Israel captured East Jerusalem.

Israel took the whole of Jerusalem in 1967 and extended the city's municipal boundaries, putting both East and West Jerusalem under its sovereignty and civil law.

The city's status remains disputed, with Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem considered illegal under international law.

Israeli settlers try to rebuild a demolished building in the West Bank
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal

Palestinians are seeking to establish their capital in East Jerusalem under a two-state solution.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said: "Such declarations [by Israel] defy the idea of a two-state solution."

On Thursday, a small illegal settler outpost camp of Maoz Ester in the occupied West Bank was destroyed by Israeli police. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law and widely considered a barrier to peace.

On returning from Washington, Mr Netanyahu had said that Israel was ready "to immediately begin" peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria.

But he insisted that any peace settlement "must find a solution to Israel's security needs".

At the talks on Monday, Mr Netanyahu was pressed by President Barack Obama over US plans on a two-state solution.

But the Israeli leader - who also came under pressure to rein in Israeli settlement-building - refrained from endorsing the idea.

Instead he said Israel was ready to live "side by side" with the Palestinians.



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