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Israel approves ultranationalist march if police agree

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s security Cabinet on Tuesday approved a controversial ultranationalist parade in Jerusalem if police approve the route.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the agreement with Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Under it, the event can go ahead June 15 with a plan that is “agreed upon by police and organizers,” according to a statement from the premier’s office.

The parade would happen two days after the Knesset holds a confidence vote to approve a new government. Netanyahu’s opponents last week said they have formed a coalition that could remove the prime minister from office after 12 years.

The agreement comes a day after Israeli police blocked the planned procession through parts of Jerusalem’s Old City following warnings that it could reignite tensions that led to a punishing 11-day war with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers last month. In a statement, police said the proposal to hold the parade later this week was not approved, but new plans would be considered. Organizers accused the police of caving in to pressure from Hamas.

The procession, which had intended to pass through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, is seen by Palestinians as a provocation.

The parade celebrates Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and was underway on May 10 when Hamas fired rockets from Gaza toward the holy city, setting off heavy fighting. Some 254 people were killed in Gaza and 13 in Israel before a cease-fire took effect May 21.

The war was preceded by weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in the Old City and in the nearby neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers have waged a decades-long campaign to evict Palestinian families from their homes.

Israel captured east Jerusalem, which is home to sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The Associated Press