Israel began celebrating the 3,000th anniversary of King David's conquest of Jerusalem on Monday, amid accusations that the festivities are an attempt to deny Palestinian claims to the city.
The 17-month commemoration is being boycotted by European Union and Palestinian leaders. Some Orthodox Jewish leaders are also staying away, saying the celebrations are too secular.
In a ceremony at parliament, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stressed the Jewish claim to the city.
"There is no state of Israel without Jerusalem, and no peace without Jerusalem united," he said.
Earlier, for Monday's opening ceremony, Israeli leaders came to the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, where archaeologists have been uncovering the "City of David," the ruins of the ancient settlement where King David proclaimed the capital of the Jewish kingdom.
Dozens of riot police lined rooftops to prevent unrest as Rabin and 200 guests opened the celebrations on the slopes below the walled Old City.
Rabin emphasized the central role of Jerusalem in Jewish history.
"Jerusalem is the celebration of the Jewish nation, from the day the Jewish people were created in God's image," Rabin said. …