Jerusalem - Capital of Israel
Jerusalem is the Capital and largest city of Israel in both population and area, with 732,100 residents in an area of 125.1 square kilometers(49 sq mi). Located in the Judean Mountains, between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern tip of the Dead Sea, the city has a history that goes back as far as the 4th millennium BCE, making it one of the oldest cities in the world.
The walled area of Jerusalem, which constituted the entire city until the 1860s, is now called the Old City, and was added to the List of World Heritage Sites in danger in 1982. The Old City has been traditionally divided into four quarters, although the names used today—the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters—were only introduced in the early 19th century. Despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometer (0.35 square mile), the Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Temple Mount and its Western Wall for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and the Dome of the Rock for Muslims.
Modern Jerusalem has grown up around the Old City, with its civic and cultural hub extending westward toward Israel's urban center in Gush Dan. The Arab population resides in clusters in the North, East and South. Today, Jerusalem remains a bone of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem captured in the 1967 Six-Day War) has been particularly controversial, as Palestinians view this part of the city as the capital of a potential Palestinian state. The status of a "united Jerusalem" as Israel's eternal capital has not been officially recognized by the international community. Although some countries maintain consulates in Jerusalem, and two maintain embassies in Jerusalem suburbs, all embassies are located outside of the city proper, mostly in Tel Aviv.
A Midrashic interpretation in Genesis Rabba explains that Abraham came to the city that was then called Shalem after rescuing Lot. Upon arrival, he asked the king and high priest Melchizedek to bless him, and Melchizedek did so in the name of God (indicating that he, like Abraham, was a monotheist). This encounter between Melchizedek and Abraham was commemorated by renaming the city in their honor: the name Yeru (derived from Yireh, the name Abraham gave to the Temple Mount) was combined with Shalem, producing Yeru-Shalem, meaning the "city of Shalem," or "founded by Shalem." If shalem means "complete," or "without defect, " Yerushalayim would mean the "perfect city," or "the city of he who is perfect". The ending -im indicates the plural in Hebrew grammar and -ayim the dual, leading to an interpretation of the name as representing two facets of the city, such as two hills. The pronunciation of the last syllable as -ayim appears to be a late development, which had not yet appeared at the time of the Septuagint.
According to the Hebrew Bible, David reigned until 970 BCE, when his son Solomon became king of Israel. Within a decade, Solomon began to build the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah inside the city. Solomon's Temple (later known as the First Temple), went on to play a pivotal role in Jewish history as the repository of the Ark of the Covenant. The next four centuries, up until the destruction of Solomon's Temple (c. 586 BCE), are known in history as the First Temple Period. Upon Solomon's death (c. 930 BCE), the ten northern tribes split off to form the Kingdom of Israel. Under the leadership of the House of David and Solomon, Jerusalem remained the capital of the Kingdom of Judah. When the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE, Jerusalem was strengthened by a great influx of refugees from the northern kingdom. The First Temple period ended around 586 BCE, as the Babylonians conquered Judah and Jerusalem, and laid waste to Solomon's Temple. However, many claims of the Fall of Jerusalem are gathered from the Ptolemaic records, in which some dates have been found to be erroneous. Some religions (JWs, Bible students and several others) claim that Jerusalem fell in 606-607 BCE; however, no historical evidence supports that the 18th or 19th year of Nebuchadrezzar was in the year 607 BCE, and Zecharias 7:1-5 establishes the year 587 BCE for the complete and final attack on Jerusalem by the Babylonians
In 538 BCE, after fifty years of Babylonian captivity, Persian King Cyrus the Great permitted the Jews to return to Judah to rebuild Jerusalem and their holy temple. Construction of the Second Temple, was completed in 516 BCE, during the reign of Darius the Great, seventy years after the destruction of the First Temple. Jerusalem resumed its role as capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship. When Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, Jerusalem and Judea fell under Macedonian control, eventually falling to the Ptolemaic dynasty under Ptolemy I. In 198 BCE, Ptolemy V lost Jerusalem and Judea to the Seleucids under Antiochus III. The Seleucid attempt to recast Jerusalem as a Hellenized polis came to a head in 168 BCE with the successful Maccabean revolt of Mattathias the High Priest and his five sons against Antiochus Epiphanes, and their establishment of the Hasmonean Kingdom in 152 BCE with Jerusalem again as its capital.
In the five centuries following the Bar Kokhba revolt, the city remained under Roman then Byzantine rule. During the 4th century, the Roman Emperor Constantine Iconstructed Christian sites in Jerusalem such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem reached a peak in size and population at the end of the Second Temple Period: The city covered two square kilometers (0.8 sq mi.) and had a population of 200,000 From the days of Constantine until the Arab conquest in 638, Jews were banned from Jerusalem, but were allowed back into the city by Muslim rulers. By the end of the 7th century, an Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik had commissioned and completed the construction of the Dome of the Rock over the Foundation Stone. In the four hundred years that followed, Jerusalem's prominence diminished as Arab powers in the region jockeyed for control.
In 1099, Jerusalem was besieged by the First Crusaders, who killed most of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, apart from many Christians. That would be the first of several conquests to take place over the next four hundred years. In 1187, the city was taken from the Crusaders by Saladin. Between 1228 and 1244, it was given by Saladin's descendant al-Kamil to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Jerusalem fell again in 1244 to the Khawarizmi Turks, who were later, in 1260, replaced by the Mamelukes. In 1517, Jerusalem and its environs fell to the Ottoman Turks, who would maintain control of the city until the 20th century. This era saw the first expansion outside the Old City walls, as new neighborhoods were established to relieve the overcrowding that had become so prevalent. The first of these new neighborhoods included the Russian Compound and the Jewish Mishkenot Sha'ananim, both founded in 1860.
State of Israel
As the British Mandate of Palestine was expiring, the 1947 UN Partition Plan(Part III) recommended "the creation of a special international regime in the City of Jerusalem, constituting it as a corpus separatum under the administration of the United Nations." However, this plan was never implemented and at the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Jerusalem found itself divided between Israel and Jordan (then known as Transjordan). The ceasefire line established through the Armistice Agreement of 1949 between Israel and Jordan, cut through the center of the city from 1949 until 1967, during which time West Jerusalem was part of Israel and East Jerusalem was part of Jordan. In 1949, Israel designated West Jerusalem as its capital. Contrary to the terms of the Armistice Agreement of 1949 between Jordan and Israel, Israelis were denied access to Jewish holy sites, many of which were desecrated, and only allowed extremely limited access to Christian holy sites.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War Israel captured East Jerusalem, asserted sovereignty over the entire city, and later in 1980 declared Jerusalem, "complete and united", to be the capital of Israel. However, East Jerusalem has been seen by the Palestinian Arabs as a possible capital of a proposed Palestinian state. They also refer to Security Council resolution 252, which considers invalid expropriation of land and other actions that tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem. The status of the city and of its holy places remains disputed to this day.
Jerusalem is situated around 31°47′N, 35°13′Eon the southern spur of a plateau in the Judean Mountains, which include the Mount of Olives (East) and Mount Scopus(North East). The elevation of the Old City is approximately 760 m. The whole of Jerusalem is surrounded by valleys and dry riverbeds (wadis), although those to the north are less pronounced than those on the other sides.
Jerusalem is 60 kilometers (37 mi) east of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea. On the opposite side of the city, approximately 35 kilometers (22 mi) away, is the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on Earth. Neighboring cities and towns include Bethlehem and Beit Jala to the south, Abu Dis and Ma'ale Adumim to the east, Mevaseret Zion to the west, and Ramallah and Giv'at Ze'ev to the north.
The city is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers, warm to cool spring and autumn, and cold, wet winters. Snowfall occurs every couple of winters. January is the coldest month of the year, with an average temperature of 8 °C (46 °F). July and August are the hottest months, with an average temperature of 23 °C (73 °F). Temperatures vary widely from day to night, and Jerusalem evenings are typically cool even in summer. The average annual precipitation is close to 590 millimetres (23 in) with rain occurring usually from October to May.
The Jerusalem City Council has thirty-one elected members, one of whom is the mayor. The mayor serves a five-year term and appoints six deputies. The current mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski was elected in 2003. Apart from the mayor and his deputies, City Council members receive no salaries and work on a voluntary basis. The longest-serving Jerusalem mayor was Teddy Kollek, who spent twenty-eight years — six consecutive terms — in office. Most of the meetings of the Jerusalem City Council are private, but each month, it holds a session that is open to the public. Within the city council, religious political parties form an especially powerful faction, accounting for the majority of its seats. The headquarters of the Jerusalem Municipality and the mayor's office are at Safra Square (Kikar Safra) on Jaffa Road. The new municipal complex, comprising two modern buildings and ten renovated historic buildings surrounding a large plaza, opened in 1993. The city falls under the Jerusalem District, with Jerusalem as the district's capital.
Further information: Positions on JerusalemSee also: Politics of Israel
On December 5, 1949, the State of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel's capital and since then all branches of the Israeli government - legislative, judicial, and executive have resided there. At the time of the proclamation, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan and thus only West Jerusalem was considered Israel's capital. Immediately after the 1967 Six-Day War, however, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, making it a de facto part of the Israeli capital. Israel enshrined the status of the "complete and united" Jerusalem — west and east — as its capital, in the 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel.
The non-binding United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, passed on August 20, 1980, declared that this law was "null and void and must be rescinded forthwith." Member states were advised to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city as a punitive measure. Most of the remaining countries with embassies in Jerusalem complied with the resolution by relocating them to Tel Aviv, where many embassies already resided prior to Resolution 478. Currently there are no embassies located within the city limits of Jerusalem, although there are embassies in Mevaseret Zion, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and four consulates in the city itself. In 1995, the United States Congress had planned to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act. However, U.S. presidents, including President Bush and President Clinton, have argued that Congressional resolutions regarding the status of Jerusalem are merely advisory. The Constitution reserves foreign relations as an executive power, and as such, the US embassy is still in Tel Aviv. Israel's most prominent governmental institutions, including the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and the official residences of the President and Prime Minister, are located in Jerusalem.
Another prominent cultural institution in Jerusalem is Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem houses the world's largest library of Holocaust-related information, with an estimated 100,000 books and articles. The complex contains a state-of-the-art museum that explores the genocide of the Jews through exhibits that focus on the personal stories of individuals and families whose lives were torn asunder, and a gallery displaying permanent and changing exhibits of work by artists who died in the Holocaust. Another memorial at Yad Vashem commemorates the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Yad Vashem operates as both a research and educational institution.
One of the city's foremost orchestras is the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which has been operating since the 1940s. The Orchestra has held performances in cities around the world, including Vienna, Frankfurt, and New York City. Within walking distance of the Old City is a cultural district which includes the Khan Theatre, the only repertoire theater in the city, and the Jerusalem Cinematheque. The Jerusalem Theater, located in the Komemiyut (Talbiya) neighborhood, hosts over 150 concerts a year, as well as theater and dance companies and performing artists from overseas. Other prominent facilities for the performing arts include the International Convention Center (Binyanei HaUma) near the entrance to city, where the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra plays, the Gerard Behar Center in downtown Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Music Center in Yemin Moshe, and the Targ Music Center in Ein Kerem. The Palestinian National Theatre, founded in 1984 and once the only center for art and culture in East Jerusalem, today presents art from the Palestinian perspective. The Israel Festival, featuring local and international vocal artists, concerts, plays and street theater, has been held annually since 1961. For the past 25 years, Jerusalem has been the major organizer of this event, which takes place in May-June, and most of the performances take place at venues around the city.
Main article: Religious significance of Jerusalem
Jerusalem plays an important role in the three monotheistic religions— Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The 2000 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem lists 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Despite efforts to maintain peaceful religious coexistence, some sites, such as the Temple Mount, have been a continuous source of friction and controversy.
According to tradition, Jerusalem is widely considered the third-holiest city in Islam. For approximately a year, before it was permanently switched to the Kabaa in Mecca, the qibla (direction of prayer) for Muslims was Jerusalem. The city's lasting place in Islam, however, is primarily due to Muhammad's Night of Ascension (c. 620 CE). Muslims believe Muhammad was miraculously transported one night from Mecca to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, whereupon he ascended to Heaven to meet previous prophets of Islam. The first verse in the Qur'an's Surat al-Isra notes the destination of Muhammad's journey as al-Aqsa (the farthest) mosque, in reference to the location in Jerusalem. Today, the Temple Mount is topped by two Islamic landmarks intended to commemorate the event — al-Aqsa Mosque, derived from the name mentioned in the Qur'an, and the Dome of the Rock, which stands over the Foundation Stone, from which Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to Heaven.
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