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Israeli prime minister opens exhibition at U.N., calls out 125 nations

UNITED NATIONS -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened an exhibition on Jerusalem Thursday to reinforce Israel's claim to the historic city as the Jewish people's "eternal capital" -- and rebuke over 125 countries that support Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Netanyahu's U.N. visit follows President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted soon afterward to condemn the U.S. announcement and declare Mr. Trump's action "null and void."

U.N. overwhelmingly condemns Trump's Jerusalem decision

The exhibition traces Jews in Jerusalem back centuries before the Christian era, and Netanyahu said it clearly shows the city's long history "cherished" by Israelis and friends of the Jewish people and "friends of truth."

This "is being denied by those seeking to erase the history of our people, our connection to our lands, and our connection to our eternal capital Jerusalem," he said.

The Israeli leader noted a disclaimer sign at the entrance to the exhibition that says: "The content of this exhibit is solely the responsibility of the sponsors. The holding of the exhibit in U.N. premises does not imply endorsement by the United Nations. Please direct any queries to the organizers."

Netanyahu united nations exhibition jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu attend the opening of a special exhibit on Jewish presence in Jerusalem at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Thu., March 8, 2018. Reuters

Hitting back at the U.N., Netenyahu responded: "Of course it doesn't represent the United Nations. It represents the truth, and we'll continue to tell the truth and speak the truth everywhere, including the United Nations."

"This exhibit would not have been possible 10 years ago," he added. "And this exhibit will be unnecessary 10 years from now. We are changing the world. We are changing Israel's position in the world, and above all we are making it clear that we fight for the truth and for our rights. We also fight for security."

Among the items in the exhibition are the Tel Dan Stela from 8th-9th century BC, which has the first known historical evidence of King David from the Bible, and a seal with the Hebrew inscription "To Netanyahu son of Yaush" from the 7th century BC.

Also Thursday, Netanyahu spoke of the peace process, about Jerusalem, Iran and U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, CBS News' Pamela Falk reports.  

Asked by CBS News about the peace process and if Israel is committed to a two-state solution, Netanyahu said, "I am committed to peace, and I know the President [Mahmoud Abbas] is committed to peace; I don't know when they'll put their peace plan forward, but we have not walked away from peace negotiations, the Palestinians have," Falk reports.

"You cannot negotiate peace if you run away from the negotiating table, and President Abbas has done exactly that," Netanyahu continued.

On Iran, Netanyahu said, "We have no quarrel with the citizens of Iran ... we do have a problem with the tyrants of Tehran."

"There is a newfound alliance in the Middle East between all those who recognize that the greatest threat we face is a nuclear Iran and an aggressive Iran."

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