USA TODAY US Edition
JERUSALEM STILL THE NEXUS OF CONFLICT
Holy city’s history significant in Supreme Court ruling
Jerusalem for decades has been a flashpoint for tensions as the nexus of the world’s two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, and Judaism.
The United Nations General Assembly, in creating Israel in 1948, intended for the city to become an international enclave because of its shared stature for Christians as the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus; for Muslims as the place where the prophet Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven; and for Jews as their holiest place and the location where David, Solomon and Herod built their temples.
But it almost immediately became a fulcrum for violence, as Jews and Arabs fought in the streets. It became a divided city after a 1949 armistice between Israel and Jordan. Then Israeli forces took complete control of the city during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967.
The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 1980 decreed Jerusalem the nation’s capital, even as Palestinians hoped to make it the capital of a new Palestinian state.
The religious importance of Jerusalem at the center of a Supreme Court ruling Monday dates to the days of the Old Testament and 1050 B.C. when Israel’s King David conquered the city. His son, Solomon, expanded on the construction David began, raising the Temple on the Mount that would later be finished by Herod.
A remnant of a massive, western retaining wall for the temple ruins is now the Wailing Wall or Western Wall of Jewish prayer and pilgrimage.
Close by is the Muslim Dome of the Rock from where Mohammed ascended, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Christians travel to Jerusalem to follow the path Jesus walked before the crucifixion and visit the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre built by Crusaders in the 12th century over the site of Christ’s tomb.
Because of the city’s shared significance, the U.N. declined to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and nearly all countries, including the United States, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.