JERUSALEM MENTIONED WITHIN THE BIBLE

Heckled by a lawmaker from Israel’s Arab minority, Netanyahu offered a lesson in comparative religion from the lectern.

"Because you asked: Jerusalem is mentioned 142 times in the New Testament, and none of the 16 various Arabic names for Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran. But in an expanded interpretation of the Koran from the 12th century, one passage is said to refer to Jerusalem," he said.

Asked about Netanyahu’s citations, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "I find it very distasteful this use of religion to incite hatred and fear."

MANY RULERS

Destroyed as a Jewish capital by the Romans in the 1st century AD, Jerusalem was a Christian city under their Byzantine successors before falling to Muslim Arabs in the 7th. European Crusaders took it back for a century before 700 years of Muslim control until Britain defeated the Ottoman Turks in 1917.

As Britain prepared to quit, the United Nations proposed international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, in 1947 as a "corpus separatum."

That proposal was overtaken by fighting that left Israel holding West Jerusalem in 1948 and Jordanian forces in East Jerusalem. Israel then took the rest in the Six Day War of 1967.

The city, within boundaries defined by Israel but not recognized internationally, is now home to 750,000 people, two in three of them Jews and the rest mostly Muslim Palestinians.

Netanyahu did not refer in his speech to indirect peace negotiations with the Palestinians that resumed this month after 1 1/2 years of U.S. mediation. But he said Israel would retain all of Jerusalem while ensuring freedom of worship at its sites.

"There is no undercutting, nor do I intend to undercut, the connection of others to Jerusalem," Netanyahu said.

"But I do confront the attempt to undercut and warp or obfuscate the unique connection that we, the people of Israel, have to the capital of Israel."

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