JERUSALEM -- Thousands of Israeli soldiers marched through Jerusalem yesterday on the anniversary of Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in 1967 and Israel's jubilee year with the largest military parade in more than 20 years.
The annual Jerusalem Day march, expanded for the 50th anniversary of Israel, included jeep formations and a flyover by air force planes. It was a throwback to army parades in the years following the victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Palestinians called the march a provocation, and critics on the Israeli left said it was a needless nationalist display.
The march commemorated the 31st anniversary of what Israel calls the unification of Jerusalem. But it steered clear of the Arab areas of East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel after they had been captured from Jordan and now claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of their hoped-for state.
The parade included no tanks or heavy weapons, and its military flavor was watered down by contingents of schoolchildren and other civilian groups.
Palestinians in East Jerusalem stared sullenly as hundreds of flag-waving religious nationalist Jews marched and danced in separate processions through the walled Old City on their way to the Western Wall.
As the Jews sang "Jerusalem is Ours Forever!" and "The People of Israel Live!" to the rousing music of a band on a truck, Arab vendors at music cassette stands blared Palestinian nationalist music and a mournful ballad about Al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Some Palestinian youths chanted "God is great!" and scuffles broke out between Arab onlookers and the marchers.
Against this tense backdrop, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a late-night meeting of top Cabinet ministers to discuss U.S. proposals on the stalled Middle East peace process. The Clinton administration is reportedly pressing Netanyahu to respond to the proposals by the end of this week.
Pub Date: 5/25/98