Israel marks 43-year rule of Arab east Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, May 11, 2010 (AFP) - Israel on Tuesday starts celebrating the anniversary of what it calls Jerusalem's unification , its 1967 conquest of the city's Arab sector which has since become a major hurdle in peace efforts.

The sunset-to-sunset Jerusalem Day celebrations kick off with an open-air concert by US funk band Kool and the Gang and feature a ceremony at Ammunition Hill, the site of one of Israel's fiercest battles with Jordanian forces.

Thousands of people, mostly nationalist-religious Jews are expected to take part on Wednesday in an annual march through Jerusalem that concludes at the Old City's Wailing Wall, one of the most holiest sites in Judaism

Israel marks the event in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

It captured Arab east Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, the third day of the Six Day War and unilaterally annexed the sector in a move not recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians are determined to make east Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City and its holy sites, the capital of their promised state.

But in 1980 Israel passed a law declaring Jerusalem its "eternal and indivisible" capital. Israeli human rights groups claim though that the Holy City is sharply divided and that Palestinian residents suffer from discrimination.

The status of Jerusalem, together with the continuation of Israeli settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory, are among the thorniest issues in Middle East peace efforts.

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