East Jerusalem

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Map of East Jerusalem.
Map of East Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem is a disputed Middle Eastern place name. It may refer to all of that part of Jerusalem which was held by Jordan from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War until the Six-Day War in 1967. That would include the Old City and some of the holiest sites in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary (containing the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Sometimes, "East Jerusalem" is used to refer specifically to the territory of the pre-1967 Jordanian municipality, including the Old City and the adjacent Arab neighborhoods. Israeli law does not recognize a distinction between the two sections of the city. Therefore, some sources write "east Jerusalem" with a lower-case "e," or call it "eastern Jerusalem." Mount Scopus, which was an Israeli enclave during Jordanian rule, is not considered part of East Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as warring factions engage in verbal and military disputes to gain control over it. The Palestinian National Authority has insisted on East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state in final status negotiations [1]. Israel has rejected this possibility, insisting that "united Jerusalem" will always be "one indivisible city under Israeli sovereignty" and "Israel's eternal capital" [2].



Jordanian Rule

According to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city, not part of either the proposed Jewish or Arab state. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, West Jerusalem was captured by Israel, while East Jerusalem (including the Old City) was captured by Jordan. In 1950 East Jerusalem, along with the rest of the West Bank, was annexed by Jordan. However, the annexation of the West Bank was recognized only by the United Kingdom, which did not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem. Under Jordanian rule, the Jewish Quarter was bulldozed. East Jerusalem absorbed some of the refugees from West Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods that came under Israeli rule.

During the period of Jordanian rule, East Jerusalem lost much of its importance, as it was no longer a capital, and losing its link to the coast diminished its role as a commercial hub. It even saw a population decrease, with merchants and administrators moving to Amman. On the other hand, it maintained its religious importance, as well as its role as a regional center.

During the 1960s Jerusalem saw ecomonic improvement and its tourism industry developed significantly, and its holy sites attracted growing numbers of Christian and Muslim pilgrims (Jews were not allowed access to their holy sites in the city). The Kendall Town Scheme was commissioned by the Jordanian government in 1966 with the purpose of linking the city with the surrounding towns and villages, integrating them into a metropolitan area. This plan was not implemented, as East Jerusalem came under Israeli rule the following year.

Israeli Rule

During the Six-Day War of 1967 Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and eventually annexed 6.4 km² of Jordanian Jerusalem and 64 km² of the nearby West Bank to the City of Jerusalem, including several villages and lands from neighboring villages.[3] The annexation excluded many of East Jerusalem's suburbs and divided several villages.

Under Israel, members of all religions were largely granted access to their holy sites, with the Muslim Waqf maintaining control of the Temple Mount and Muslim holy sites there. The old Mughrabi Quarter (Morrocan) neighborhood in front of the Western Wall was demolished and replaced with a large open air plaza.

Following annexation, Israel conducted a census in the annexed territory and granted permanent Israeli residency to those present at the time of the census (those not present lost the right to reside in Jerusalem). They were permitted to apply for Israeli citizenship on condition they swore allegiance to Israel and renounce all other citizenships, which most of them refused to do. Those rejecting Israeli citizenship can still vote in municipal elections and play a role in the administration of the city.

In 1980 Israel enacted its "Jerusalem Law" formally declaring East and West Jerusalem together, "whole and united" to be "the capital of Israel". In response the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 478 (the U.S. abstained), declaring the annexation to be a violation of international law. In 1988, Jordan, while rejecting Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, withdrew all its claims to the West Bank (including Jerusalem). The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, signed September 13, 1993, leaves open the final status of Jerusalem, though Israel did not cede sovereignty until final negotiations on the city's status.

With the stated purpose of preventing infiltration during the Second Intifada, Israel has decided to surround East Jerusalem with a separation barrier. The planned barrier would cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. The separation barrier has raised much criticism, and the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the alignment of sections of the barrier (including East Jerusalem sections) must be amended.


The population of East Jerusalem is about 410,000, comprising 58% of the city's residents. Of these, 184,000 (45%) are Jews and 226,000 (55%) are Arabs.


See also

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