December 7, 2017

The history of Jerusalem

Electronic Intifada - Jerusalem, an ancient city that has been settled for thousands of years, is crucial to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is at the center of both Jewish and Palestinian nationalism. It contains some of the most important Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious sites in the world.

For Muslims, Jerusalem was the first direction of prayer and ought still be a part of the annual pilgrimage enjoined on the faithful. Most of its modern history has been Islamic. In fact, bar a hundred or so years of Christian crusader interjection, the city was under Muslim rule from 637 until the British ousted the Ottomans in 1917 only to create a Palestine mandate and promptly promise European Jews a homeland there.

Those 1,000 years – give or take – of the city’s modern history and the resonance the city holds for Muslims everywhere have been completely ignored in the Trump administration’s formula that simply sees Jerusalem as “the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times” as well as today’s seat of the Israeli government.

And so has international law.

The only internationally agreed formula for the city to date came with the 1947 partition plan that envisaged the city as a separated body under international administration belonging to neither a Palestinian nor a Jewish state. That is why even the US, until now, has not recognized Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the city – any part of the city.

And it is why international consensus in the context of a two-state solution has been that the city will be divided into two capitals, one in the western part for Israel and one in the east for Palestine, but only in the context of a final and mutually negotiated resolution to the conflict.

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