Jerusalem (31°46′ N 35°14′ E; Hebrew: יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (♫); Yerushalayim; Arabic: القُدس (♫) al-Quds; see also names of Jerusalem) is an ancient Middle Eastern city of key importance to the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The State of Israel has its capital at Jerusalem, although its right to do so is disputed.
With a population of 704,900 (as of December 31, 2004 ), it is a richly heterogeneous city, representing a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups. The section called the "Old City" is surrounded by walls and consists of four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim.
The status of the city is hotly disputed. The 1949 cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan, also known as the Green Line, cuts through the city. Since its victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has controlled the entire city and claims sovereignty over it. According to a Basic Law of Israel enacted in 1980 (the Jerusalem Law) Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and is the center of Jerusalem District; it serves as the country's seat of government and otherwise functions as a capital. The UN Security Council Resolution 478 condemned the Jerusalem Law as "a violation of international law".
In 2000 the Palestinian Authority passed a law designating Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state; in 2002 this law was ratified.
The origin of the name of the city is uncertain. It is possible to understand the name (Hebrew Yerushalayim) as either "Heritage of Salem" or "Heritage of Peace" - a contraction of "heritage" (yerusha) and Salem (Shalem literally "whole" or "in harmony") or "peace" (shalom). (See the Biblical commentator the Ramban for explanation.) "Shalem" is the original name used in Genesis 14:18 for the city. Similarly the Amarna Letters call the city Uru Salim in Akkadian, a cognate of the Hebrew Ir Shalem ("city of Salem"). Some consider a connection between the name and Shalim -- the deity personifying dusk known from Ugaritic myths and offering lists. The ending -ayim or -im has the appearance of the Hebrew dual or plural suffix respectively. It has been argued that it is a dual form representing the fact that the city lies on two hills however the treatment of the ending as a suffix makes the rest of the name incomprehensible in Hebrew. A Midrashic interpretation comes from Genesis Rabba, which explains that Abraham came to "Shalem" after rescuing Lot. Upon arrival, he asked the king and high priest Melkhizedek to bless him, and Melkhizedek did so in the name of the Supreme God (indicating that he, like Abraham, was a monotheist). According to exegetes, God immortalizes this encounter between Melkhizedek and Abraham by renaming the city in honor of them: the name "Yeru" (derived from "Yireh", the name Abraham gives to Mount Moriah after unbinding Isaac, and explained in Genesis as meaning that God will be revealed there) is placed in front of "Shalem". The plural ending implies the community of all believers in the One God who testify to the city's holiness.
Antiquity (prehistory - 6 CE)
This city has known many wars, and various periods of occupation. According to one Jewish tradition, it was founded by Abraham's forefathers Shem and Eber. According to Genesis 14:18, "Salem" was ruled by Melchizedek, a priest of God -- in some traditions, identical with Shem. Later it was controlled by the Jebusites. After this it came under Israelite control. The Bible records that King David defeated the Jebusites in war and captured the city without destroying it. David then expanded the city to the south, and declared it the capital city of the united Kingdom of Israel.
Later, according to the Bible, the First Jewish Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon. The Temple became a major cultural center in the region, eventually overcoming other ritual centers such as Shilo and Bethel. Near the end of the reign of King Solomon, the northern ten tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria. Jerusalem then became the capital of the southern kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah.
By the end of the "First Temple Period," Jerusalem was the sole acting religious shrine in the kingdom and a center of regular pilgrimage. Although recent archaeological finds may push the date yet earlier (see Tel Dan Stele), clear historical records begin to corroborate some of the Biblical history from around the 9th century BCE, the kings of Judah become historically identifiable, and the significance the Temple had in Jewish religious life is clear.
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 BCE by Sennacherib -- unlike Samaria, the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, that had fallen some twenty years previously. However, the city was overcome by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, who then took the young king Jehoiachin into Babylonian captivity, together with most of the aristocracy. The country rebelled again under Zedekiah, prompting the city's repeated conquest and destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. 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 Babylonia, Cyrus II of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the city's walls and the Temple. It continued to be the capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship, as a province under the Persians, Greek and Romans, with a relatively short period of independence under the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Temple complex was upgraded and the Temple itself rebuilt under Herod the Great, a Jewish client-king under Roman rule, around 19 BCE. That structure is known as the Second Temple, and was the most important of the many improvements Herod made to the city. After Herod's death, the province and city came under direct Roman rule in 6 CE.
Roman rule (6 CE - 638)
After a brief period of Roman rule, the city was ruined when a civil war, accompanied by the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome in Judea, led to the city's sack yet again, at the hands of Titus in 70 CE. The Second Temple was burnt and all that remained was a portion of an external (retaining) wall that became known as the Western Wall.
After the end of this first revolt, Jews continued to live in Jerusalem in significant numbers, and were allowed to practice their religion. In the second century, the Roman Emperor Hadrian began to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city while restricting some Jewish practices. Angry at this affront, the Judeans again revolted, led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Hadrian responded with overwhelming force, putting down the revolution, killing as many as a half million Jews, and resettling the city as a pagan polis under the name Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to enter the city but for a single day of the year, Tisha B'Av, (the Ninth of Av, see Hebrew calendar), when they could weep for the destruction of their city at the Temple's only remaining wall.
For the next 150 years, the city remained a relatively unimportant Roman town. The Byzantine Emperor Constantine, however, rebuilt Jerusalem as a Christian center of worship, building the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335. Jews were still banned from the city, except during a brief period of Persian rule from 614-629.
Arab Caliphates, Christian Crusaders, and early Ottoman rule (638-1800s)
Although the Qur'an does not mention the name "Jerusalem", the hadith specify that it was from Jerusalem that Muhammad ascended to heaven in the Night Journey, or Isra and Miraj. The city was one of the Arab Caliphate's first conquests in 638 CE; according to Arab historians of the time, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab personally went to the city to receive its submission, cleaning out and praying at the Temple Mount in the process. Some Muslim and non-Muslim sources add that he built a mosque there. Sixty years later, the Dome of the Rock was built, a structure in which there lies the stone where Muhammad is said to have tethered his mount Buraq during the Isra. This is also reputed to be the place where 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. Umar ibn al-Khattab also allowed the Jews entry into the city and full freedom to live and worship after 400 hundred years. Jews were allowed to move back into their homes.
Under the early centuries of Muslim rule, especially during the Umayyad (650-750) and Abbasid (750-969) dynasties, the city prospered; the geographers Ibn Hawqal and al-Istakhri (10th century) describe it as "the most fertile province of Palestine", while its native son the geographer al-Muqaddasi (born 946) devoted many pages to its praises in his most famous work, The Best Divisions in the Knowledge of the Climes.
The early Arab period was also one of religious tolerance. However, in the early 11th century, the Egyptian Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all churches and synagogues in Jerusalem, a policy reversed by his successors. Reports of this were one cause of the First Crusade, which marched off from Europe to the area, and, on July 15, 1099, 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, a feudal state, of which the King of Jerusalem was the chief. The Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted until 1291; however, Jerusalem itself was recaptured by Saladin in 1187, who permitted worship of all religions (see Siege of Jerusalem (1187).
In 1173 Benjamin of Tudela visited Jerusalem. He described it as a small city full of Jacobites, 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.
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 and peace 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 rule of Suleiman and the following Ottoman Sultans brought an age of "religious peace"; Jew, Christian and Muslim enjoyed the freedom of religion the Ottomans granted them and it was possible to find a synagogue, a church and a mosque in the same street. 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 Druze, 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)
Revival of Jerusalem (1800s-1917)
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 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 so that Jews formed the largest religious group in the city by the 1844 census. The first such immigrants were 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 pending 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 Sha’ananim, 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.
British Mandate (1917-1948)
The British were victorious over the Turks in the Middle East and with victory in Palestine, General Sir Edmund Allenby, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Jerusalem on foot, out of respect for the Holy City, on December 11th, 1917.
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 New City of Jerusalem grew outside the old city walls and the Old City of Jerusalem gradually emerged as little more than an impoverished older neighborhood. One of the British bequests to the city was a town planning order requiring new buildings in the city to be faced with sandstone and thus preserving some of the overall look of the city, even as it grew. During the 1930s, two important new institutions, the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University were founded in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus.
British rule marked a period of growing unrest. Arab resentment at British rule and the influx of Jewish immigrants (by 1948 1 in 6 Jews in Palestine lived in Jerusalem) boiled over in anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem in 1920, 1929, and the 1930s that caused significant damage and several deaths. The Jewish community organized self-defense forces in response to the Jerusalem pogrom of April, 1920 and later disturbances; while other Jewish groups carried out bombings and attacks against the British, especially in response to suspected complicity with the Arabs and restrictions on immigration during World War II imposed by the White Paper of 1939. The level of violence continued to escalate throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly approved a plan which partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. Each state would be composed of three major sections, linked by extraterritorial crossroads, plus an Arab enclave at Jaffa. The Greater Jerusalem area would fall under international control. After partition, the fight for Jerusalem escalated, with heavy casualties among both fighters and civilians on the British, Jewish, and Arab sides. By the end of March, 1948, just before the British withdrawal, and with the British increasingly reluctant to intervene, the roads to Jerusalem were cut off by Arab irregulars, placing the Jewish population of the city under siege. The siege was eventually broken, though massacres of civilians occurred on both sides, before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War began with the end of the British Mandate in May of 1948.
Jerusalem and the Arab-Israeli conflict (1948-)
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, 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 (also known to non-Jews as the Wailing Wall) and Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest sites, in the Old City, though it had agreed to under the cease fire agreement.
The United Nations proposed, in its 1947 plan for the partition of Palestine, for Jerusalem to be a city under international administration. However, on January 23, 1950 the Knesset passed a resolution that stated Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The city recovered from the Arab seige of 1948 and became the second largest city in the country, after Tel Aviv. Growth was limited in that the city was surrounded on three sides by hostile Arabs, and the major highway linking the city to the rest of the country fell into Arab hands in 1948 and a smaller, newly built roadway was now the only way to reach the city.
East Jerusalem was captured by Israel Defense Force following the Six Day War in 1967. Most Jews celebrated the event as a liberation of the city; a new Israeli holiday was created, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), and the most popular secular Hebrew song, "Jerusalem of Gold" (Yerushalayim shel zahav), became popular in celebration. Following this the medieval Moroccan Quarter was demolished, and a huge public plaza was built in its place adjoining the Western Wall, to accommodate the influx of Jewish worshippers to their holy site.
Many large state gatherings of the State of Israel take place there now, including the official swearing-in of different Israel army officers units, national ceremonies such as memorial services for fallen Israeli soldiers on Yom Hazikaron, huge celebrations on Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut), huge gatherings of tens of thousands on Jewish religious holidays, and ongoing daily prayers by regular attendees. It is also a major high-point for tourists visiting Jerusalem.
Under Israeli control, members of most religions are largely granted access to their holy sites. The major exceptions being the limitations placed on Palestinian Muslims and Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from accessing holy sites due to their inadmissibility to Jerusalem, as well as limitations on Jews from visiting the Temple Mount due to both politically-motivated restrictions (where they are allowed to walk on the Mount in small groups, but are forbidden to pray or study while there) and religious edicts that forbid Jews from trespassing on what may be the site of the Holy of the Holies. Concerns have been raised about attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the last of which was a serious fire in 1969 (arson by an Australian tourist), and tunnels opened near the Mount, discovered in 1981, 1988 and 1996. The status of East Jerusalem remains a highly controversial issue.
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.
All the branches of Israeli government (Presidential, Legislative, Judicial, and Administrative) are seated in Jerusalem. The Knesset building is well known in Jerusalem.
As of 2004, only two states, Costa Rica and El Salvador, have their embassies in Jerusalem (since 1984). Other foreign consulaltes such as Consulate General of Greece as well as those of the United Kingdom and the United States are based there and primarily serve the Palestinian population in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Consul-Generals of those countries do not submit their letters of credintials to the Israeli President or foreign ministry, but to the administrative governor of the city. Additionally, Bolivia and Paraguay have their embassies in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem. The Netherlands hold an office in Jerusalem that serves almost exclusively Israelis.
Palestinian groups claim either all of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) or East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The position of the United Nations on the question of Jerusalem is contained in General Assembly resolution 181(11) and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council concerning this question.
The UN Security Council, in UN Resolution 478, declared that the 1980 Jerusalem Law declaring Jerusalem as Israel's "eternal and indivisible" capital was "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith" (14-0-1, with United States abstaining). The resolution instructed member states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city as a punitive measure.
Before this resolution, thirteen countries maintained their embassies in Jerusalem: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela. Following the UN resolution, all thirteen moved their embassies to Tel Aviv. Costa Rica and El Salvador moved theirs back to Jerusalem in 1984.
United States position
The United States Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by Congress in 1995, states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999". Since then, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv is being suspended by the President semi-annually, each time stating that "[the] Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem". As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003 states:
"The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President [...] to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem". 
However, President Bush has argued that this section is merely "advisory", stating that it "impermissibly interferes with the President's constitutional authority".  The U.S. Constitution reserves the conduct of foreign policy to the President and acts of Congress which make foreign policy are arguably invalid for that reason. The U.S. Congress, however, has the "power of the purse," and could prohibit the president from expending any funds on any embassy that is located outside Jerusalem. It has not done so.
United Kingdom position
UK government statement
"In line with the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993 and the Interim Agreement of 28 September 1995, both agreed by Israel and the PLO, the Government regards the status of Jerusalem as still to be determined in permanent status negotiations between the parties. Pending agreement, we recognise de facto Israeli control of West Jerusalem but consider East Jerusalem to be occupied territory. We recognise no sovereignty over the city."
"Jerusalem has a unique religious and cultural importance for Christians, Jews and Muslims, and we attach great importance to ensuring access to Jerusalem and freedom of worship there for those of all faiths."
It should be noted that whilst the United Kingdom maintains a Consulate-General in Jerusalem, this is not accredited to Israel. It administers the UK's relations with the Palestinian Authority and looks after the interests of British citizens in the occupied territories and Jerusalem. Israelis and British citizens in Israel proper must deal with the UK's embassy in Tel Aviv.
Arguments for and against internationalization
The proposal that Jerusalem should be a city under international administration is still made at times by Christians, whose population in the city is rather smaller than the Muslim and Jewish populations. (Internationalization is the solution favored by the Holy See.) However, most negotiations regarding the future status of Jerusalem have 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. Palestinians have argued for an open city, though its feasibility has been challenged given the existence of mutual distrust.
Jerusalem plays an important role in three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.