Old City from the Mount of the Olives
View of Jerusalem from Mountain of Olives. Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Initially, during the UN partition plan, Jerusalem and its surrounding area were to be designated a “corpus separatum,” a sort of international city. After the first Arab-Israeli war, Jerusalem was divided along the Green Line (the temporary armistice line). West Jerusalem was under Israeli control, and East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. This remained the case until the Six-Day war in 1967 when Israel took over full military control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel then annexed East Jerusalem and declared Jerusalem as a unified city and capital of Israel. Israel also extended the borders of what was to be considered Jerusalem. However, this annexation has not been recognized internationally and there remain no embassies there. The Palestinian Authority seat of government is currently in Ramallah, but the official Palestinian position is that they want (East) Jerusalem to be their future capital.

Then there is the Old City, which lies in East Jerusalem. Within the Old City, there are holy sites for each of the major monotheistic religions. The Western Wall, which is holy to the Jews due to its connection to the Temple Mount. The Jews believe that the Temple Mount is the location of the first and second great temples (and the current location of the Dome of the Rock). It is the holiest site in the world for Jews. Haram al-Sharif (which has the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque), where Muslims believe Mohammed traveled to from Mecca and ascended to heaven, is the third holiest site in the world for Muslims. For Christians, there is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is considered the location of Jesus’s tomb. In addition to the issue of whether or not to divide Jerusalem, sovereignty over the Old City and the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock are very contentious issues. Previous initiatives have mainly proposed dividing East and West Jerusalem along demographic lines, including the Old City with special arrangements and status regarding sovereignty over, and excavation of the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock. The recent UNSCR 2334, which the US abstained from, dictates that all areas of Jerusalem beyond the 1967 borders are illegally occupied. In addition to the Old City and the Western Wall, this includes areas such as Gilo and other neighborhoods around Jerusalem that were seen by Israel as natural extensions of Western Jerusalem.

Discussions regarding Jerusalem focused on the sovereignty of West and East Jerusalem, the future status of the Old City, and access to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

Below is the participants’ approximate location on the issue based on their responses. When their responses did not fit exactly under one category, they were placed in between the two categories at a place which most closely resembled their stances. Occasionally, their placement represents what they think should happen rather than what they want. Click the name to see what they had to say.




Links to material referenced in responses: UNSCR 2334