The many proposals put forward over the years for the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict - with the Palestine question at its core - in general, and the question of Jerusalem in particular, all recognized the need for giving special treatment to Jerusalem. This was mainly because of its unique character as the historic site of the Holy Places of the three monotheistic religions, as well as being a tribute to its symbolic nature and its significance for the identity of the peoples of the region. Numerous statements, documents, position papers and resolutions concerning the city and its special status have been made or written, but the question of Jerusalem is nevertheless still an unresolved issue and a source of conflict between the two peoples concerned. Many maps for the city have emerged over time as a result of historical events and various administrations, but although in more recent history the expansion of parts of the city at the expense of other parts is evident, no generally accepted boundaries exist.
The Religious Significance of Jerusalem
Being the city of the three great monotheistic religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - has left a considerable impact on Jerusalem's status. The religious claims of the three divine religions to Jerusalem are each unique with different significant attributes and refer, accordingly, to different places in the city. Jerusalem's holiness complicates any attempt to solve the Jerusalem question and is often used or manipulated to reach non-religious goals. The fact that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews and the meaning of this religious attachment to the city has always been and will continue to be of major importance, although today, the geo-political controversy has actually become the dominant factor, forcing religious, historical and ideological arguments into the background.
For Muslims, Al-Quds ash-Sharif (the Holy, Noble One, Jerusalem) is one of the three holiest cities of Islam. Its association with the Islamic vocation of the Prophet Mohammed has made Jerusalem a Muslim holy site since the beginning of Mohammed's call (610 AD) and it was the first city, before Mecca, towards which Muslims directed their prayers (qibla). In the Qur'an, Jerusalem is mentioned as the blessed holy city, the two most important shrines of which are the Al-Sakhra (Rock) and Al-Aqsa (Farthest) Mosque, both part of the Haram ash-Sharif compound. Al-Sakhra, it is believed, came from Paradise and was visited by angels 2000 years before the creation of Adam; it is closer to Heaven than any other spot on earth and guarded by angels. Noah's arc rested on the rock after the flood and from here, the angel will blow the last trumpet on the Day of Judgment. It furthermore has a special significance as the site of Prophet Mohammed's Night Journey, Isra' and Mi'raj (the journey from Medina to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven).
Al-Aqsa Mosque derived its name from the Qur'anic verse relating to the Prophet's nocturnal journey: "Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the inviolable place of worship to the Far Distant Place of Worship, the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He is the Hearer, the Seer" (Isra' 17:1). After Mecca and Medina, Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest mosque in Islam, which has turned Jerusalem into the center for Muslim religious institutions such as the Awqaf and Shari'a courts.
The Ummayyad Caliph Muaawiyah linked his own personal identity with Jerusalem, calling himself Caliph of Beit al-Maqdis (House of the Sanctuary). The Muslim rule of Jerusalem, which lasted about 1,400 years, only ended in 1917, when the city was captured by the British. This also marked the moment when Jerusalem started to become the center of the political and national struggle between Arabs and Jews.
For Christians, Jerusalem's deep religious significance involves the ancient concept of the city as a shrine of preeminent holiness, the center of the cosmos where history began and where it will reach its apocalyptic consummation. Jerusalem is essentially seen as the heavenly Jerusalem and as such it symbolizes the very origin as well as the archetype of the church. It is mater ecclesia, the city where the Christian church was founded and the place where Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected and from where he ascended to heaven. It is also the city of the old testament prophets and the place Christians associate with the mysteries of incarnation, redemption and salvation.
Jews consider Jerusalem as the center of their religion and identity; its religious significance is based on the view that Jerusalem is the earthly manifestation of Zion. In Jewish tradition, Jerusalem is seen as the mother of Zion's children and this motif of identification has survived over centuries. It was in Jerusalem, that Abraham sacrificed his son and it is the City of David where the people of the Promised Land gather. As such, it is a symbol of devotion, piety, and messianic belief. Jews believe that the first conception of the city's eternity in the Bible is related to the monarchy of the House of David and that the erection of the First Temple during Solomon's rule has invested the site with holiness. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews have prayed towards the city and visited it as pilgrims. Jews throughout the world envision the return to Jerusalem and pray twice a year, on the holidays of Passover and Yom Kippur, that they meet "next year in Jerusalem." Fundamentalist Jews - as well as fundamentalist Christians - believe that the End of Days is near, meaning the imminent arrival of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple. The Jewish claim to sole sovereignty over Jerusalem is based on the religious-historical justification that the land of Canaan was given to Abraham and his descendants because they were God's "chosen people."
Historical and Political Background
Arab and Islamic Policy towards Jerusalem
Jerusalem's Arabic roots go back 5,000 years to the time when the city of Arab Yabous (Jerusalem) was founded. As Islam has dominated the culture of the Middle East for the last 1,400 years, it has dominated Jerusalem. The historic city of Jerusalem with its Arab culture, heritage, architecture, possesses many significant monuments and sacred shrines and there is an agreement on the urgent need and duty to preserve these sites, as well as Jerusalem as a whole. Since Jerusalem has been under Muslim rule for centuries and there has been a continuous and uninterrupted Arab presence in the city, it has a significant meaning to the Arab World in general. The Islamic approach to the city in particular determines any Arab Muslim state's concern for the fate of Jerusalem and their refusal to accept or recognize Jewish rule. For the Muslim world, Israel's historical justification of its claim to Jerusalem lacks any fundamental validity since Jerusalem was under Jewish control for a much shorter period than it was under Islamic rule. If historical claims provide justification for today's "sovereignty", the adherents of Islam have a far better claim than those of Christianity and Judaism. The city was governed by Arab-Islamic politics for 1,400 years and it was under Arab-Islamic rule throughout the centuries that the city's heritage, history and culture were preserved. Islamic rule of the city always safeguarded Jerusalem's specific character and secured its propitious environment for all religious cults. During the entire period of the Ottoman Empire, for example, the millet (nation) system recognized the laws and religions of Christians and Jews.
Against this background the Arab states and Muslims in general opposed the UN Partition Plan (Resolution 181) for Palestine, as well as the notion of the corpus separatum for Jerusalem. They rejected the idea as illegal and immoral. During the period of Hashemite rule (1948-67) in the city, the Jordanians declined in any event to discuss any type of internationalization and went ahead with their plans to annex the West Bank, including theOld City (effective April 24, 1950). The Jordanians did not proclaim Jerusalem as their capital or move their ministries there, but they announced it, in 1960, as the Kingdom's "second capital." However, although construction of "King Hussein's Palace" began - the remainders of which are still visible on the landscape of the Shu'fat neighborhood - they never followed through the proposal.
The Arab League rejected both Israeli and Jordanian annexation of Jerusalem and has always demanded that the city should either return to the status quo ante, meaning the lines of 1948-1967 or be the subject of negotiations. The Islamic Conference Organization formed in 1975 a Jerusalem Committee, chaired by King Hassan of Morocco, that calls for the liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli control and the return of Arab rule to the city.
The Palestinian Position on Jerusalem
Jerusalem has historically been part of Palestine and Palestinian heritage is deeply rooted in the city. Jerusalem is related to the history, land and people of Palestine, to their Moslem-Christian beliefs and holy places. For both Muslim and Christian Palestinians Jerusalem is of great importance not only as a holy city, but also as the political, geographical, economic and cultural center of Palestine. For Palestinians, Jerusalem is undoubtfully theirs. It is the capital of the Palestinian people and thousands have sacrificed their lives in its defense. Jerusalem is the symbol of Palestinian nationality and identity, as well as of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
At the beginning of the century, three major documents were drafted and these have left an impact on the region as a whole ever since. The first was the Husseini-MacMahon Correspondence of 1915 in which the British invited the Arabs to become their allies against the Turks and offered, in return, to help them establish their independent sovereign Arab states. The second was the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 which outlined a new colonial map for the Middle East as drawn up jointly by Britain and France. The third document was the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which Britain declared its support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The subsequent British policy during the Mandate period undertook to establish such a "national home" for the Jews. These were the first steps which led to the denial of equal rights for the Palestinians. Jerusalem became and remained the center of the national struggle of the Palestinian people, who made every effort to defend their city against the Zionist and British invasion.
During the 1930s and afterwards, Palestinian protest included strikes, riots and revolts against the British occupation, its mandatory policies and the massive Zionist immigration. Jerusalem was the center of these confrontations. For some time, the clashes centered around the controversy as to whom Al-Burak - or the Wailing Wall - belongs, and it was the British courts which settled the dispute by ruling that the Wall is Islamic property. Nonetheless, Muslims never denied a worshipper, believer or pilgrim of any faith, including Judaism, the right to have free access to any of the holy places in the city.
Palestinians have always rejected proposals denying their rights to Jerusalem. In the context of the UN Partition Plan of 1947, as well as after the 1948 War when Jewish forces occupied and rampaged through Palestinian villages and urban neighborhoods located in what is today known as West Jerusalem (such as Lifta, Khallat al-Tarha, Deir Yassin, Ein Kerem, Al-Malha, Talbiya Quarter, Al-Qatamon Al-Baq'ah Quarter, Mamilla Quarter, Abu Tor, and the Musrara Quarter), the Israeli state was established and West Jerusalem was illegally and unilaterally declared Israel's "eternal capital."
At no time in history - not in the course of the 1967 War when East Jerusalem was occupied by Israeli forces and when many of its Arab inhabitants were evicted and their property seized or demolished, and not when East Jerusalem was annexed and subjected to Israeli law - did the Palestinians accept Israeli-claimed sovereignty over the city.
Instead they resisted, by means such as stressing its illegitimacy, not joining the West Jerusalem municipality and preserving the Arab character of the eastern part of the city. The dynamics of Palestinian resistance against Israeli policies and practices in the eastern part of Jerusalem, including their attempts to Judaize its nature, have been continuous ever since.
The chapters of Palestinian resistance in Jerusalem can be traced back to the very beginning of its occupation in June 1967. Sheikh Abdel Hamid Al-Sayeh issued an Islamic fatwa which stated a clear position of refusing to be governed by Jewish/Israeli law. The Islamic Council formed the first National Guidance Committee which included notables and activists like Anwar Khatib, Anwar Nusseibeh, Fuad Abdul Hadi, Aref al-Aref, Ibrahim Tlil, and many others. They succeeded in keeping the Islamic courts and institutions free of Israeli interference. The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Kobei'n, and many other Christian dignitaries stood hand in hand with Muslim sheikhs and leaders while defending Arab Islamic/Christian rights in the city. This resulted in keeping the commercial and other major institutions, including the Arab Electricity Company, Palestinian. And although the Arab municipality in Arab East Jerusalem was dissolved and abolished by Israeli forces, while its infrastructure was annexed to the Israeli municipality in West Jerusalem following the 1967 War, important Palestinian key institutions remained and continued functioning, including medical centers and hospitals, civil courts, societies, tourist offices, intra-city transportation networks, land registration offices, as well as centers and forums providing scientific, cultural and educational research, information and services.
In 1988, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) declared the Independent Palestinian State and proclaimed Arab Jerusalem its capital. Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian people and their future state. It is the center of Palestinian Arab sovereignty, the center of Palestinian activity, and the heart of the Palestinian struggle. Since Jerusalem lies in the north-south crescent of the West Bank, the integrity of the Occupied Territories cannot be maintained without Jerusalem: without its geographic and demographic center, the unity of the whole is divided and lost.
The historical justification on which Israel builds its claim to the land of Palestine and Jerusalem goes back to the so-called Jewish exodus some 4,000 years ago, when the Jews came to Palestine and settled there for some time. Furthermore, Israel argues that Jerusalem around 1000 BC was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Judah and the site of the Jewish Temple.
Following the end of the British Mandate and the 1948 War, Israel controlled the western part of the city while Jordan exercised sovereignty over the eastern part, including the Old City. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared the state of Israel and the day after, when the British mandatory forces withdrew, it began seizing Arab-owned land in West Jerusalem, an area which was designated by the UN as part of the corpus separatum. That was the first Israeli move towards violating UN resolutions and subsequent recommendations on UN intentions to internationalize the city. Israel's reaction to these plans was to go ahead with transferring its governmental departments from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On January 23, 1950, the Knesset moved to the city and the Israeli government proclaimed that Jerusalem was "once again" the capital of Israel. When in Winter 1949/50 the Trusteeship Council approved the final status foreseen for Jerusalem, the Israelis informed the Council's chairman that they were not pleased with the proposed status but would agree to some form of functional internationalization of the Holy Places (almost all of which were in the then Jordanian sector anyway).
When Israel, in the course of the 1967 War, occupied Arab East Jerusalem asubsequently announced the "unification" of the city, a modern myth was born; in fact, Israel has tried ever since to forcibly turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city through the illegal annexation of the eastern part of the city and the application of Israeli law and jurisdiction over the entire city, while leaving the eastern part to become a marginalized area. Since 1967, more than one third of the land in East Jerusalem has been illegally expropriated by the Israeli government, and neighboring Arab villages have been divided or encircled by Israeli settlements.
In 1980, the Knesset passed the so-called Basic Law or Jerusalem Law to legislate Jerusalem as "indivisible" and the "eternal capital city of Israel". Until today, Israel attempts to secure its sovereignty with numerical superiority through continued settlement activity and the transfer of Jewish population into the Arab part of the city, thus ignoring that all physical, demographic and other alterations in occupied Jerusalem are illegal according to the terms of international law and UN decisions.
International Law and Jerusalem
As a matter of fact, there is no legitimacy or license under international law, or international resolutions passed since the beginning of the century, which allow Israel to take over Arab land in occupied East Jerusalem. Under international law, which prohibits the annexation of territory by force, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory; Israel's annexation is therefore considered illegal and Israel's unilateral activities in both parts of the city (such as land confiscation) are considered null and void.
Moreover, articles of UN Resolution 194 relating to the compensation and the right of return are still being twisted by Israel with regard to Arab properties in West Jerusalem which were illegally confiscated by Israeli forces in 1948. Since the implementation of the article on Jerusalem contained in the Partition Plan (UN Resolution 181) was suspended, the nature, limits and scope of international, regional and local legislation and administrative by-laws which governed the city were determined by the de facto "on the ground" practices of those who governed it. This has been the case since 1947 and until today - throughout so many years of confrontation.
The UN Charter recognizes the right of all nations to self-determination; it also states that territorial gains from war are unlawful, even if achieved in the course of self-defense. Therefore, any state is obliged to withdraw once it has protected itself from danger. The Palestinian right to self-determination is being repeatedly violated by the Israeli government in all of the Palestinian Territories, including occupied and illegally annexed Jerusalem.
The applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, which is intended to cover the conduct of foreign military occupation, to the Occupied Pal-estinian Territories (OPT), including Jerusalem has been explicitly recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). The following three paragraphs of the Fourth Geneva Convention (Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) apply most essentially to the status of Jerusalem and its Palestinian inhabitants. Part III (Status and Treatment of Protected Persons) states:
Section I: Provisions common to the Territories of the Parties to the Conflict
and to Occupied Territories, Article 27:
Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.
Section III: Occupied Territories, Article 47:
Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.
Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. (...) The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.
Israeli unilateral actions in East Jerusalem (as well as in other parts of Palestine) such as the construction of settlements, transfer of Israeli population, and other measures changing its original character, are illegal. In seizing Arab Jerusalem and severing it from the rest of the West Bank, and in evicting people in order to repopulate the areas with its own citizens, Israel repeatedly violates international law and conventions.
The UN has always recognized the special status of Jerusalem and the illegitimacy of its occupation. It considers East Jerusalem as occupied territory and has repeatedly declared Israel's activities in this part of the city (such as construction of settlements, transfer of Israeli population, and annexation) as illegal, null and void. In its numerous resolutions on the question of Palestine, the UN has always reaffirmed that Jerusalem is under belligerent occupation, and it has been consistent in its demand that Israel must withdraw from all territories it occupied in the course of the June War, including Jerusalem. Until today, the basic international juridical status as envisaged in Resolution 181 for Jerusalem remains legally valid since no other resolution has been passed to annul it.
Without exception, the European states as well as the European Union apply international law and regulations and consider the status of Jerusalem as unresolved. They reject the application of Israeli law in East Jerusalem and support UN Resolutions 242 and 338 which call for Israel's withdrawal from all land occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.
None of the European states recognizes the city as the capital of Israel and therefore, all European embassies are located in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem.
US Policy Towards Jerusalem
Official US policy regards East Jerusalem as part of the West Bank and not of Israel and considers the status of Jerusalem as yet unresolved and to be settled through negotiations. Therefore, the US administrations have repeatedly stated that the status of the city should not be unilaterally changed by any party, which means, amongst other things, that no new settlements should be created there.
However, the US position towards Jerusalem has been inconsistent and apart from establishing and maintaining its embassy in Tel Aviv, no concrete measures have been taken according to official US policy on this subject. The US also continuously released funds for Israel, which to some extent went towards settlement activity, including in Jerusalem. The US administration's position on issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is subject to change at any moment - in the interest of Israel. In 1947, the US supported the Partition Plan only until it became clear that the parties immediately involved - Jordan and Israel - rejected the proposal. In 1949, the US adopted an approach which foresaw Jerusalem as an undivided city with autonomous Arab and Jewish zones under an international UN commission. In adherence to international law, the US boycotted throughothe 1950s and 1960s events such as the military parades on Israel's Independence Day in Jerusalem and the opening of the new parliament building in West Jerusalem. After 1967, the US continued to maintain its position that the status of Jerusalem should not be changed unilaterally and has to be resolved by negotiation. In this context it is worth noting that the US Consulate in Jerusalem, that was established during Ottoman times, is functioning to date totally independent from the Embassy in Tel Aviv. However, the official US position has repeatedly been contradicted by US votes at the UN, where the US - as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council that are entitled to veto a resolution - is frequently voting against resolutions on Jerusalem and Palestine.
Furthermore, since the late 1960s, the US Congress has become increasingly involved in discussions on Jerusalem's future, even introducing its own resolutions, including those congratulating Israel on Jerusalem's "unification" and recognizing the city as Israel's capital. Today, US policy towards Jerusalem has taken a strong Israeli position. President Clinton's Democratic platform supported the idea of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his administration abstained from voting on parts of the UN Resolution condemning the Hebron Massacre (of February 1994), which referred to Jerusalem as "occupied Palestinian territory." Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem are no longer declared "illegal" but only "complicating factors" regarding the peace negotiations. Only recently, the Congress stepped up a campaign to promote the transfer of the US embassy's from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Today, the struggle over Jerusalem has basically turned into a struggle over property rights. Jerusalem is not united, it is divided and occupied; the physical borders between both parts of the city have not disappeared, they have only been replaced by psychological, invisible borders; the illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and the continuous Israeli attempts to create realities on the ground will not change the fact that Jerusalem is also Palestinian. Despite the existence of daily interactions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem concerning administrative, economic, political and social matters, segregation predominates and while there are no signs of "unification" at all, one finds many of confrontation and discrimination. In general, contacts between both sides take place on a low level of integration and a de facto dual ethnicity separating both societies into "us" and "the others", thus creating two different social and national realities, is evident all over the city.
The question of Jerusalem will not be solved unless the rights of both peoples, Israeli and Palestinian, are equally recognized, and the occupation of Jerusalem comes to an end. The illegitimate collective rights of only one population, the Israelis, over the whole city must be replaced by a model based on sharing the city: what is needed are two capitals, two sovereignties, two municipalities and two peoples living independently next to each other in an open and free city. To achieve this and in order to end the hostilities, military occupation and confrontation in the Holy City, peace has to be given a chance, starting with mutual recognition of each other's claims to Jerusalem and not longer immediate discussion of this crucial issue in the context of an overall settlement. Jerusalem is still an occupied city and the Israelis - by signing the Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993 - have committed themselves to begin negotiating on its final status within two years of the transitional phase. After all, a population cannot be separated indefinitely from the sovereign form for which it yearns, based on freedom and equality. This applies to both Palestinian and Jewish residents of the city. There is no authority for exclusive rule or governance as claimed by Israel for decades.
About this Book
This compilation of documents, statements and other resources is intended to provide for researchers and anyone else interested in the issue of Jerusalem a comprehensive resource work of the different attitudes towards Jerusalem as they have evolved throughout history. The aim is to give an overview of the general positions of the different parties involved; therefore, the full texts or extracts related to the issue of Jerusalem of more than 340 statements, documents and resolutions concerning the question of Jerusalem are arranged in the following by their source of origin. In the Index, all documentary entries are arranged in chronological order by the date of their original appearance; in addition, a subjects and names index (alphabetical order) is provided.
The documentation section is followed by a comprehensive chronology of Jerusalem's history from ancient times until today. The last section provides a selected bibliography on the topic of Jerusalem and some maps.
Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi
Head of PASSIA