Israelis, Palestinians march for Palestinian state
AFP, Friday 15 Jul 2011
About 1,000 Israeli and Palestinian peace activists gathered in a march near Jaffa Gate outside Jerusalem's Old City to support the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition

Some 1,000 Israelis and Palestinians gathered in east Jerusalem on Friday for a protest march to support the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition.

The marchers waved Palestinian flags and carried signs reading "marching to independence" and "only free people can negotiate for peace," an AFP photographer said.

The Palestinians plan to ask the UN General Assembly to recognise a Palestinian state when the world body gathers in September, a move opposed by Israel, which says progress can only be made through negotiations.

"This march has been considered by many as carrying special significance, since it will serve as a litmus test for the extent of popular support among Israelis and Palestinians for the diplomatic efforts for a declaration of independence," organisers said in a statement.

Organisers said they planned to march from the Old City to the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the site of weekly protests against efforts by Jewish settlers to move into largely Arab neighbourhoods in the city.

The route is the reverse of a march held last month by right-wing Israeli youth to commemorate Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel later annexed east Jerusalem, claiming it as it as its "undivided and eternal capital," a move that has not been recognised by the international community.

The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their would-be state.

Organisers had said they feared right-wing Israeli groups would try to disrupt the march, but there were no immediate signs of disturbance amid a heavy police presence.