Dividing Jerusalem Again Center of Mideast Conflict

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JERUSALEM -- This week, Israel approved the construction of 1,100 more apartments in a Jerusalem suburb.

The move came just days after a United Nations showdown between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, putting Jerusalem once again at the center of the conflict.

The Palestinians immediately criticized the announcement of the new construction.

"This offensive and provocative action, illegal action, by Israel in announcing yesterday the construction of 1,000 units in east Jerusalem is a clear answer by the Israeli government to the Quartet, to negotiations, and to the refusal of abiding by the global consensus on the fact that settlement are an illegal obstacle and they need to be stopped," said Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of the Palestinian Authority to the U.N.

Israel defended its claim to its capital.

"Jerusalem, and I'd like to stress that, is the capital of the Jewish people. This is our heart, Jerusalem, if I may say so, was the capital of the Jewish people when London was still a swamp," Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosser said.

The Palestinians want to divide the city, with east Jerusalem as their capital in a future state. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is consistent in his country's response.

"Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel," he said.

"Jerusalem is the cradle of Jewish civilization. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people and the heart of the state of Israel," Chaim Silverstein, the founder and president of Keep Jerusalem, told CBN News.

"It's also very important to the Christian world. And forcing us to give away these areas would first of all delete and disconnect the whole of the Christian world, as well as the whole of the Jewish world, from the very essence of their faith and their belief," he added.

While that doesn't seem to matter to countries supporting the Palestinian push for statehood, this 4,000-year-old connection of the Jewish people to their capital may become the most contentious, worldwide issue in the 21st century.

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