Jerusalem (In Arabic, Beit Al-Maqdis, "Holy House,"or Al-Quds Al-Sharif, "The Holy"; in Hebrew, Yerushalayim)
JERUSALEM (in Arabic, Beit al-Maqdis, "holy house,"or al-Quds al-Sharif, "the holy"; in Hebrew, Yerushalayim)
Venerated by each of the three great monotheistic religions, the city of Jerusalem has always been a battleground. Its name, Yerushalayim, in Hebrew means, according to some, "city of peace"; according to others, it means "foundation of Shalem," and has thus been identified with the city of Shalem (Salem) mentioned in Genesis. Therefore, according to Jewish tradition, the name of Jerusalem would come from the association of two places, Shalem and Yeru, the latter being where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. The city of Salem was supposed to have been built by the Canaanite goddess Anet in honor of her brother, Salem, the god of peace. In the twelfth century b.c.e., Jerusalem was already considered a holy city because of the presence of the Gihon spring, reputed to be miraculous. It became the Jewish religious and national center after it was conquered by David (c. 1000 b.c.e.); it remained so until the destruction of the second Jewish Temple by the Romans (70 c.e.) and the subsequent rebellions against Roman occupation, which resulted in the Jewish exile from Jerusalem.
Practically forgotten for five centuries, during which a number of Christian churches were built in the city, Jerusalem began to be more prominent with the birth of Islam. According to the Qurʾan, the prophet Muhammad spent time there, during which he ascended to heaven (miraj). In 634 the Arabs took the city and gave it the name of Ilia, from the Latin appellation of Aelia Capitolina. After Muhammad established Mecca as the premier holy site of Islam, the Umayyads decided to make Jerusalem a sacred city, naming it Bayt al-Maqdis or al-Quds. In 688–691 the Umayyads built the first great edifice of Islam, the Cupola of the Rock (Dome of the Rock), on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, and on the spot where the prophet Muhammad was believed to have begun his ascension to the heavens. In 715 a second mosque was built in Jerusalem, again on the Temple Mount, which the Umayyads called Al-Masjid al-Aqsa (the furthest Mosque).
After the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, Jerusalem was forgotten once more, allowing the Christian community to develop there, until 1077, when the city was conquered by Seljuk troops. On 15 July 1099, the Crusaders, led by Godfrey de Bouillon, took the city by assault. The conquest of the Holy City gave birth to the Latin states of the east, and Baudouin de Flandre became the first king of Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Jerusalem comprised at the time all of Palestine, which name was dropped, in favor of "Holy Land." In 1149 the Crusaders rebuilt the Holy Sepulchre, destroyed by the Arabs fifty years before. On 4 July 1187, at Hittin, the troops of Saladin crushed those of the Franks and three months later the Muslims retook Jerusalem. In 1229 one of the grandsons of Saladin yielded control of the city to the emperor Frederick II, but in 1244 the Muslims reconquered it. In 1291 the fall of Acre marked the end of the Latin states of the east. Palestine was divided by the Mamluks into six districts and was joined with Syria. In 1516, Jerusalem was easily conquered by the Ottomans, and two centuries later, in 1757, the Sultanate decided to divide the guardianship of the holy places among Christians of every obedience.
In 1831, Ibrahim Pasha, son of the vice-king of Egypt, Mehemet Ali, backed by France, took control of Palestine. In 1850, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte reclaimed the right of protection over the holy sites of Jerusalem, retained by Russia since 1808. This claim was one of the causes of the Crimean War (1854–1856). In 1860, taking advantage of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, England expanded its sphere of influence in Palestine. In 1878 an accord was signed at the Berlin congress, which confirmed the rights of France over the holy sites of Palestine. In 1885 the treaty of Berlin specified "that there shall be no alteration of the status quo of the holy sites." In 1889 the Jerusalem region passed out of Syrian control, for the first time in six hundred years, to be governed by Constantinople. In 1898, as a counterweight to the French, Russian, and British influence, Germany began building religious edifices in Jerusalem. On 9 December 1917, during World War I, in which the Ottoman Empire backed Germany, British troops entered the city and immediately declared martial law.
On 29 September 1923, the British Mandate over Palestine went into effect, and Jerusalem became the capital of the country. Under the British Mandate, Jerusalem became the center of both Zionist and nationalist movements. Arab Palestinian fears of displacement and of continued Zionist immigration led to violence in 1929 (the Western Wall Disturbances) and to the Palestine Arab Revolt of 1936–1939. Both were suppressed by British military force. On 29 November 1947, in the context of United Nations Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine, it was proposed that the city be accorded a special status as a separate entity (corpus separatum), overseen by an advisory council, in order to guarantee the rights of the three religious communities. On 15 May 1948, a few hours before the end of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the creation of the State of Israel, which led to the first Arab-Israel war. On 28 May, when Israel took over the western part of Jerusalem, Transjordanian troops occupied the Old City, where the Muslim holy places were located. On 3 April 1949, an armistice was signed between Transjordan and Israel. While the Arab camp emerged defeated from the conflict, Transjordan found itself aggrandized, by the West Bank and the control of the Arab part of Jerusalem. The Israeli government then launched into an intense program of development of the New City of Jerusalem, where its administrative offices were transferred. On 19 December 1949, the UN passed a resolution demanding the internationalization of the Holy City, but the resolution was ignored by both Israel and Jordan. In 1950 Israel proclaimed Jerusalem its capital, even though most governments did not relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv.
On 28 May 1964, at the first congress of the Palestine National Council (PNC), held in East Jerusalem, the Arab countries decided to create the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), whose goal was the liberation of "all of occupied Palestine." In June 1967, during the Arab-Israel War, the Israeli army occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On the following 4 and 14 July, the UN passed Resolutions 2253 and 2254, declaring the annexation of Jerusalem by Israel illegal, and demanding that the latter refrain from any decision that would change the status of the city. From that time, as Israel ignored these resolutions, Jerusalem became one of the principal subjects of dispute in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An accord was reached between the Waqf and the Israeli authorities, stipulating that only the Muslim religion would be practiced in al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount). In September 1969, after a fire at the al-Aqsa Mosque, the leaders of the Muslim states decided to create the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO), to oversee the safeguarding of the holy sites of Jerusalem.
The Israeli occupation gave rise to a new Palestinian nationalism, whose watchwords were the "right of return" and the creation of a state, with Jerusalem as its capital. On 30 July 1980, the Israeli Knesset passed a law proclaiming Jerusalem "one and entire, eternal capital of Israel," which provoked an international outcry. On 20 August, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 478, rejecting the decision of the Israeli government. In September 1981, at the Third Islamic Summit, which took place in Taʾif (Saudi Arabia), the Arab states decided to create the al-Quds Committee, in charge of protecting Muslim interests in the city of Jerusalem. On 9 September 1982, at the Twelfth Arab summit in Fez, the member states adopted a plan for resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, which provided, notably, for a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem (al-Quds) as its capital. The Israeli authorities undertook a campaign, vainly, to have Jerusalem recognized as the "capital of Israel" by the international community. On 15 November 1988, at a meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC), the leader of the PLO, Yasir Arafat, proclaimed the "independence of the Palestinian state," with Jerusalem as its capital.
In March 1990, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as "capital of Israel," which caused a wave of protest in much of the international community. When U.S. president George Bush, in March 1991, launched the idea of a peace plan for the Middle East, the subject of the internationalization of the status of Jerusalem came up again, prompting Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir to reiterate that Jerusalem would forever remain the capital of Israel. On 19 May 1993, on the occasion of the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the eastern part of the city, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that the "question of Jerusalem is not part of the agenda in negotiations for a temporary accord" concerning the occupied territories. On 4 September 1995, the Israeli administration of the city announced a celebration, to last fifteen months, to commemorate the third-millennium anniversary of the declaration of King David, proclaiming Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish people. The European Union and the Palestinians decided to boycott these events, so as not to support Israeli claims on the Arab part of the city. At the opening of these festivities, other than the absence of European diplomats, that of the ambassador of the United States was also noticeable. On 24 October 1995, the U.S. Senate voted (93 for and 5 against) to move the embassy of the United States from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a decision approved by Congress (374 in favor and 37 against), notwithstanding the opposition of the Clinton administration, which was wary of harming the peace process. Implicitly recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, this U.S. initiative prompted much anger and protest in Arab countries.
On 4 December 1996, referring to the Israeli decision of 1980 to extend its laws, jurisdiction, and administration over Jerusalem, the United Nations General Assembly declared the takeover of the Holy City to be illegal. This resolution was passed by a massive majority, with 148 voices for, one against (Israel) and 13 abstentions, including the United States. The municipal elections of 10 November 1998, in which the abstention rate was almost 60 percent, allowed the ultra-orthodox SHAS Party to win 15 seats of the 31, while the lay party of the left, Meretz, won only 7 seats. In July 2000, at the Israeli-Palestinian summit hosted by the United States at Camp David, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak said he was willing to accord administrative powers to the Palestinians over the Arab part of Jerusalem, provoking the anger of the Israeli right and the ultra-orthodox. In September, a visit by the head of Likud, Ariel Sharon, to al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) sparked a violent outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada, which prompted Israeli authorities to restrict Palestinians who did not reside in Jerusalem from entering the city. HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad carried out more suicide bombings, and Israeli authorities began constructing a barrier to cut off Palestinian areas from Jewish areas. In January 2004 the wall was extended to cut off the Palestinian suburb of Abu Dis from the city. Jerusalem remained at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.