Israel began celebrating the 3,000th anniversary of King David’s conquest of Jerusalem on Monday, amid accusations 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.
Dozens of riot police lined rooftops to prevent unrest as Rabin and 200 guests kicked off the celebrations on the slopes below the walled Old City.