For alternate uses see Jerusalem (disambiguation)

Jerusalem (Hebrew: Yerushalayim ירושלים; Arabic: al-Quds), the current capital of Israel and the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah, is one of the most disputed territories in the world. Israel declared Jerusalem its capital in 1950, and it is the location of its presidential residence and parliament, but this status is not internationally recognized and most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

It is a key city in the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is located on the border with the West Bank. The city displays a magnificent contrast between ancient and modern and has a multicultural, multi-ethnic population. The ancient city is surrounded by walls and has four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim. Today Jerusalem is a city of many faces. The largest city in Israel with a population of 700,000, it is a richly heterogeneous city, representing a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups.

The origin of the name of the city is uncertain. A common theory is that it combines the names of two Biblical cities which may have been Jerusalem: Jebus (named after the founder of the Jebusites) and Salem (a Canaanite deity). It is also possible to translate the name as either "Foundation of Salem" or "Foundation of Peace". It is also known by some as the City of David.

Table of contents
1 Current status
2 Places in Jerusalem
3 History
4 Geography
5 Demographics
6 External links

Current status

According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city, not part of either the proposed Jewish or Arab state. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, West Jerusalem was occupied by Israel, while East Jerusalem (including the Old City) was occupied by Jordan, along with the West Bank. The Jordanian annexation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was not internationally recognized, except by the United Kingdom and Pakistan.

In the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured East Jerusalem, and began taking steps to unify the city under Israeli rule. It annexed 6.4 kmē of Jordanian Jerusalem and 64 kmē of the nearby West Bank, renaming the entire area "East Jerusalem" (see Maps of Jerusalem pre- and post-1967). The residents of the annexed territory were offered Israeli citizenship on condition they renounce their Jordanian citizenship, which most of them refused to do.

In 1980, the Israeli Knesset confirmed Jerusalem's status as the nation's "eternal and indivisible capital", by passing the Basic Law: Jerusalem - Capital of Israel The UN Security Council, in UN Resolution 478, declared that the law was "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith" (14-0-1, US abstaining), and asked member states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city as a punitive measure, which most countries did.

In 1988, Jordan withdrew all its claims to the West Bank (including Jerusalem) in favour of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

As of 2003, only three states, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the United States recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is an ongoing controversy. The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have a 'permanent resident' status, which allows them to move within Israel proper. However should they move out of the country (or into the Palestinian territories), this status will be lost and they will not be able to return. By Israel's Citizenship Law, they are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which they can receive automatically or almost automatically, provided that they do not have any other citizenship. Thus, many Palestinians who would like to hold their Jordanian passports have to retain the status of permanent residents. Some Palestinians decline to accept citizenship since they consider it equivalent to accepting Israel's annexation.

Another issue is the status of family members not recorded in the census preceding the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem. They must apply for entry into East Jerusalem for family reunification with the Ministry of the Interior. Palestinians complain that such applications have been arbitrarily denied for purposes of limiting the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, while Israeli authorities claim they treat Palestinians fairly. These and other aspects have been a source of criticism from Palestinians and Israeli human rights organizations, such as B'Tselem.

Arab view of the status of Jerusalem

Arab Muslim nations have traditionally regarded Jerusalem as having a special religious / historical status. After the conquest of Jerusalem by Arab armies, parts of the city soon took on a Muslim aspect. In 688 the Caliph Abd al-Malik built the Dome of the Rock; in 728 the cupola over the Aḳṣa mosque was erected, the same being restored in 758-775 by Al-Mahdi. In 831 Al-Ma'mun restored the Dome of the Rock and built the octagonal wall. In 1016 the Dome was partly destroyed by earthquakes; but it was repaired in 1022.

Arguments for internationalization

The proposal that Jerusalem should be a city under international administration is still made at times by Christians, the only interested party without a significant poplation in the city. (Internationalization is the proposal favoured by the Pope.) Most negotiations regarding the future status of Jerusalem have however been based on partition; for example, one scheme would have Israel keep the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall (the "Wailing Wall"), with the rest of the Old City and the Temple Mount being transferred to a new Palestinian state. Some Israelis are opposed to any division of Jerusalem, based on cultural, historic, and religious grounds. Others believe that areas such as the Old City which are sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam should be under international or multilateral control.

Places in Jerusalem



This city has known many wars and various periods of occupation. At one time it was a city of the Jebusites. Later it came under Israelite control. The Bible, supported by archeological finds, records that King David defeated the Jebusites in war and captured the city without destryoing it. Then he established a city to the south of which, and declared it the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel, later inherited to Kingdom of Judah upon the split with the northern tribes.

Later, still according to the Bible, the First Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. The Temple became a major cultic center in the region, eventually overcoming other ritual centers such as Shilo and Bethel. By the end of the "First Temple Period", Jerusalem was the sole acting religious shrine in the kingdom and a center of regular pilgrimage. It was at this time that historical records begin to corroborate the biblical history, and the kings of Judah are historically identifiable, and we learn of the significane the Temple had.

Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judah for some 400 years. It had survived (or, as some historians claim, averted) an Assyrian siege in 701 BC, unlike Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, which had fallen in 722 BC. However, the city was overcome by the Babylonians in 598 BC, who then took the young king Jehoiachin into eternal captivity, together with most of the aristocracy of that time. However, the country rebelled again under Zedekiah, prompting the city's repeated conquest and destruction by Nebuchadrezzar. The temple was burnt, and the city's walls were ruined, thus rendering what remained of the city unprotected.

After several decades of captivity and the Persian conquest of Bablyon, the Persians allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the city's walls and the Temple. It has continued to be the capital of Judah, as a province under the Persians, Greek and Romans, with a relatively short period of independence. The Temple complex was upgraded and the Temple itself rebuilt under Herod the Great. That structure is known as the Second Temple.

The city was ruined yet again when a civil war accompanied by a revolt against Rome in Judea led to the city's repeated sack and ruin, by the hands of Titus at 70 AD. The Second Temple was burnt, and the whole city was ruined. The only remaining part of the Temple was a portion of an external (retaining) wall which became known as the Western Wall. The name Wailing Wall being used exclusively by non-Jews or Jews estranged from their heritage.

First millennium

Sixty years later, the Roman emperor Hadrian ordered the city to be resettled, under the name Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to enter the city, but for a single day of the year, The Ninth of Av (see Hebrew calendar), when they could weep for the destruction of their city at the Temple's only remaining wall. The Byzantine Empire, which came to control the region in after the split of the Roman Empire, cherished the city for its Christian history. However, in accordance with traditions of religious tolerance often found in the ancient East, Jews were allowed into it in the 5th century A.D.

Although the Koran never mentions the name "Jerusalem", Islamic tradition holds it that it was from Jerusalem that Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven to receive the Koran. The city was one of the Arabic empire's first conquests in 638 AD. Sixty years later, the Dome of the Rock was built, a structure in which there lies a stone, from which as tradition says Muhammad rose up. (This is also reputed to be the place Abraham went to sacrifice his son, Isaac in the Jewish tradition, Ishmael in the Muslim one.) Note that the octagonal and gold-sheeted Dome is not the same thing as the Al-Aqsa mosque beside it, which was built more than three centuries later.

Second millennium

On July 15, 1099 during the First Crusade, Christian soldiers took Jerusalem after a difficult one month siege. They then proceeded to slaughter most of the city's Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. Raymond d'Aguiliers, chaplain to Raymond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote:

Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious ceremonies were ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood. (Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other source materials, p. 214)

Jerusalem became the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted until 1291, although Jerusalem itself was recaptured by Saladin in 1187. In 1173 Benjamin of Tudela visited Jerusalem. He described it as a small city full of Jacobitess, Armenians, Greeks, and Georgians. Two hundred Jews dwelt in a corner of the city under the Tower of David.

In 1219 the walls of the city were taken down by order of the Sultan of Damascus; in 1229, by treaty with Egypt, Jerusalem came into the hands of Frederick II of Germany. In 1239 he began to rebuild the walls; but they were again demolished by Da'ud, the emir of Kerak.

In 1243 Jerusalem came again into the power of the Christians, and the walls were repaired. The Kharezmian Tatars took the city in 1244; and they in turn were driven out by the Egyptians in 1247. In 1260 the Tatars under Hulaku Khan overran the whole land, and the Jews that were in Jerusalem had to flee to the neighboring villages.

The early Arab period was also one of religious tolerance. However, in early 11th century, the Egyptian Caliph al-Hakim ordered the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Jerusalem. The Crusaders, at the end of the century, captured Jerusalem and massacred the whole Jewish and Muslim population. They made Jerusalem the center of a feudal state, of which the King of Jerusalem was the chief. Neither Jews nor Muslims were allowed into the city during that time. In 1187, Jerusalem was retaken by Salah ad-Din, who permitted worship of all religions.

In 1244, Sultan Malik al-Muattam razed the city walls, rendering it again defenseless and dealing a heavy blow to the city's status. In the middle of the 13th century, Jerusalem was captured by the Egyptian Mameluks. In 1517, it was taken over by the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed a period of renewal under Suleiman the Magnificent - including the rebuilding of magnificent walls of what is now known as the Old City (however, some of the wall foundations are remains of genuine antique walls). The city remained open to all religions, although the empire's faulty management after Suleiman meant slow economical stagnation.

In 1482, the visiting Dominican priest Felix Fabri described Jerusalem as a dwelling place of diverse nations of the world, and is, as it were, a collection of all manner of abominations. As abominations he listed Saracens, Greeks, Syrians, Jacobites, Abyssianians, Nestorians, Armenians, Gregorians, Maronites, Turcomans, Bedouins, Assassins, a sect possibly Druzes, Mamelukes, and the most accursed of all, Jews. Only the Latin Christians long with all their hearts for Christian princes to come and subject all the country to the authority of the Church of Rome. (A. Stewart, Palestine Pilgrims Text Society, Vol 9-10, p. 384-391)

19th-early 20th centuries

The modern history of Jerusalem began in the mid-nineteenth century, with the decline of the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the city was a backwater, with a population that did not exceed 8,000. Nevertheless, it was, even then, an extremely heterogeneous city because of its significance to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The population was divided into four major communities--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian--and the first three of these could be further divided into countless subgroups, based on precise religious affiliation or country of origin. An example of this would be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was meticulously partitioned between the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, and Ethiopian churches. Tensions between the groups ran so deep that the keys to the shrine were kept with a 'neutral' Muslim family for safekeeping.

At that time, the communities were located mainly around their primary shrines. The Muslim community, then the largest, surrounded the Haram ash-Sharif or Temple Mount (northeast), the Christians lived mainly in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (northwest), the Jews lived mostly on the slope above the Western Wall(southeast), and the Armenians lived near the Zion Gate (southwest). In no way was this division exclusive, however, it did form the basis of the four quarters during the British Mandate period (1917-1948).

Several changes occurred in the mid-nineteenth century, which had long-lasting effects on the city: their implications can be felt today and lie at the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over Jerusalem. The first of these was a trickle of Jewish immigrants, from the Middle East and Eastern Europe, which shifted the balance of population. The first such immigrants were ultra-Orthodox Jews: some were elderly individuals, who came to die in Jerusalem and be buried on the Mount of Olives, others were students, who came with their families to await the coming of the Messiah, and adding new life to the local population. At the same time, European colonial powers also began seeking toeholds in the city, hoping to expand their influence their with the imminent collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This was also an age of Christian religious revival, and many churches sent missionaries to proselytize among the Muslim and especially the Jewish populations, believing that this would speed the Second Coming of Christ. Finally, the combination of European colonialism and religious zeal was expressed in a new scientific interest in the biblical lands in general and Jerusalem in particular. Archeological and other expeditions made some spectacular finds, which increased interest in Jerusalem even more.

By the 1860s, the city, with an area of only 1 square kilometer, was already overcrowded. Thus began the construction of the New City, the part of Jerusalem outside of the city walls. Seeking new areas to stake their claims, the Russian Orthodox Church began constructing a complex, now known as the Russian Compound, a few hundred meters from Jaffa Gate. The first attempt at residential settlement outside the walls of Jerusalem was begun by Jews, who built a small complex on the hill overlooking Zion Gate, across the Valley of Hinnom. This settlement, known as Mishkenot Shaananim, eventually flourished and set the precedent for other new communities to spring up to the west and north of the Old City. In time, as the communities grew and connected geographically, this became known as the New City.

By the time General Allenby took Jerusalem from the Ottomans in 1917, the new city was a patchwork of neighborhoods and communities, each with a distinct ethnic character. This continued under British rule, as the neighborhoods flourished and the Old City of Jerusalem gradually emerged as little more than an impoverished older neighborhood.

Jerusalem, Israel's officially designated capital

Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall
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Current mayor of Jerusalem is Uri Lupolianski, member of the local United Torah Judaism faction and the first Ultra-Orthodox Jew to attain this position in the city. Previous mayors had been Ehud Olmert and Teddy Kollek.

Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict

The United Nations proposed, in its 1947 plan for the partition of Palestine, for Jerusalem to be a city under international administration. See [1]. However, on January 23, 1950 the Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when a Palestinian-Arab state failed to materialize, and the nascent state of Israel was invaded by Egypt and Jordan, Jerusalem was divided. The Western half of the New City became part of the new state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. Jordan did not allow Jewish access to the Western Wall (known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall) and Temple Mount, Judiasm's holiest sites, in the Old City. Jordan construced a slum within a few feet of the base of the Western Wall and used the area as a garbage dump, and converted some churches to mosques. Christian access to the Western Wall and the Temple Mount was allowed in many cases, but this was seldom in use, as most of the christians in Jerusalem were UN officials running between the divided parts.

East Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis in the Six-Day War of 1967, along with the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Under Israel, members of all religions were largely granted access to their holy sites. The slum in front of the Wall was removed and a large open air plaza constructed. This plaza is a favored site of Jewish prayer services. However, concerns have been raised about several attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, notably a serious fire in 1969 (arson by a delusional Australian tourist) and tunnels opened beneath that mosque, discovered in 1981, 1988 and 1996

[[1]. The status of East Jerusalem remains a highly controversial issue.

Dome of the Rock in center of ()

See also:


Jerusalem is situated in 31° 46′ 45″ N. lat. and 35° 13′ 25″ E. long., upon the southern spur of a plateau the eastern side of which slopes from 2,460 ft. above sea-level north of the Temple area to 2,130 ft. at the southeastern extremity. The western hill is about 2,500 ft. high and slopes southeast from the Judean plateau.

Jerusalem is surrounded upon all sides by valleys, of which those on the north are less pronounced than those on the other three sides. The principal two valleys start northwest of the present city. The first runs eastward with a slight southerly bend (the present Wadi al-Joz), then, deflecting directly south (formerly known as "Kidron Valley," the modern Wadi Sitti Maryam), divides the Mount of Olives from the city. The second runs directly south on the western side of the city, turns eastward at its southeastern extremity, then runs directly east, and joins the first valley near Bir Ayyub ("Job's Well"). It was called in olden times the "Valley of Hinnom," and is the modern Wadi al-Rababi, which is not to be identified with the first-mentioned valley.

A third valley, commencing in the northwest where is now the Damascus Gate, ran south-southeasterly down to the Pool of Siloam, and divided the lower part into two hills (the lower and the upper cities of Josephus). This is probably the later Tyropœon ("Cheese-makers'") Valley. A fourth valley led from the western hill (near the present Jaffa Gate) over to the Temple area: it is represented in modern Jerusalem by David Street. A fifth cut the eastern hill into a northern and a southern part. Later Jerusalem was thus built upon four spurs.


Jerusalem's population at different times
Year Jews Muslims Christians Total
1525 1000 3700 ? 4700
1538 1150 6750 ? 7900
1553 1634 11,750 ? 12,384
1562 1200 11,450 ? 12,650
1844 7120 5000 3390 15,510
1876 12,000 7560 5470 25,030
1896 28,112 8560 8748 45,420
1922 33,971 13,411 4,699 52,081
1931 51,222 19,894 19,335 90,451
1948 100,000 40,000 25,000 165,000
1967 195,700 54,963 12,646 263,307
1980 292,300 ? ? 407,100
1985 327,700 ? ? 457,700
1987 340,000 121,000 14,000 475,000
1990 378,200 131,800 14,400 524,400
1995 482,000 164,300 16,300 662,600
1996 421,200 ? ? 602,100
2000 448,800 208,700 ? 657,500

Note: Because the 1896 census was used for recruitment in the army the Arab count is underestimated. Jews were exempt from military service. Sources: [1], [1], [1], [1]

See also: Timeline of Jerusalem

External links