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Jerusalem (Hebrew: , Yerushaláyim or Yerushalaim; Moslem Arabic: , al-Quds ("the Holy"), Christian Arabic اورشليم Ûrshalîm; official Arabic in Israel: اورشليم القدس, Urshalim-al-Quds (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names)) is the capital and largest city<ref>Largest city:
- "...modern Jerusalem, Israel's largest city..." (Erlanger, Steven. Jerusalem, Now, The New York Times, April 16, 2006.)
- "With a population of 701,512 in 2004, Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city. ("Israel (country)", Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2006, p. 3. Retrieved October 18, 2006.)
- "Since 1975 unified Jerusalem has been the largest city in Israel." ("Jerusalem", Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2006. Retrieved October 18, 2006.)
- "Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city." ("Jerusalem", Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia, 2006, p. 1. Retrieved October 18, 2006.)
- "Jerusalem, the capital, is its crowning glory. "Jerusalem is for prayer," says Nisso, our minivan driver, with a twinkle in his dark eyes as we speed away from Israel's largest city." (Lothar, Corrina. Israel's Embrace, The Washington Times, October 14, 2006.)
- "Jerusalem is the largest city in the State of Israel. It has the largest population, the most Jews and the most non-Jews of all Israeli cities." (Klein, Menachem. Jerusalem: The Future of a Contested City, New York University Press, March 1, 2001, p. 18. ISBN 0-8147-4754-X)
- "In 1967, Tel Aviv was the largest city in Israel. By 1987, more Jews lived in Jerusalem than the total population of Tel Aviv. Jerusalem had become Israel's premier city." (Friedland, Roger and Hecht, Richard. To Rule Jerusalem, University of California Press, Sep 19, 2000, p. 192. ISBN 0-520-22092-7)
- "Israel's largest city, Jerusalem sprawls over 28 square miles." (Jeffers, H Paul. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jerusalem, Alpha Books, Mar 2, 2004, p.4. ISBN 1-59257-179-4)</ref> of the State of Israel with a population of 724,000 (as of May 24, 2006<ref name=cbs>PDF</ref>) contained in 123 km². An ancient Middle Eastern city on the watershed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea at an elevation of 650-840 metres (about 2000-2500 feet), Jerusalem is located southeast of Tel Aviv, south of Ramallah, west of Jericho and north of Bethlehem.
Jerusalem is the holiest city of Judaism (since the 10th century BCE) and some denominations of Christianity (since the 5th century CE). Jewish law holds that the more important Jewish prayers should be conducted facing the direction of the city, specifically in the direction of the Temple Mount. Jerusalem is generally regarded by Muslims as the location of the third holiest site in Islam, and the city was the original Qibla (direction of prayer) for Muslims prior to Mecca. Jerusalem appears in the Hebrew Bible 669 times while Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) appears 154 times. The New Testament mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. <ref>The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem</ref>
A heterogeneous city with a large Jewish majority, Jerusalem represents a wide range of national, religious, and socioeconomic groups. The section called the "Old City" (barely 1 km²) is surrounded by walls and consists of four quarters: Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. The "Old City" was named by the American television show Good Morning America and newspaper USA Today as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" <ref>ABC Good Morning America "7 New Wonders" Page</ref> in 2006. The status of united Jerusalem as Israel's capital is not universally recognised by the international community, and Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is particularly controversial. East Jerusalem is claimed by Palestinians as the desired capital for a future Palestinian state.
The origin of the name of the city is uncertain. It is possible to understand the name (Hebrew Yerushalayim) as either "Heritage of Salem" or "Heritage of Peace" – a contraction of "heritage" (yerusha) and either Salem (Shalem literally "whole" or "in harmony") or shalom ("peace"). (See the Biblical commentator Nachmanides for explanation.) "Shalem" is the name used in Genesis 14:18 for the city. Similarly the Amarna Letters call the city Urušalim in Akkadian, a cognate of the Hebrew Ir Shalem ("city of Salem"). Some consider a connection between the name and Shalim - the deity personifying dusk known from Ugaritic myths and offering lists. The ending -ayim or -im has the appearance of the Hebrew dual or pluralis. It has been argued that it is a dual form representing the fact that the city lies on two hills however the treatment of the ending as a suffix makes the rest of the name incomprehensible in Hebrew. A Midrashic interpretation comes from Genesis Rabba, which explains that Abraham came to "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 the Supreme God (indicating that he, like Abraham, was a monotheist). According to exegetes, God immortalizes this encounter between Melchizedek and Abraham by renaming the city in honor of them: the name "Yeru" (derived from "Yireh", the name Abraham gives to Mount Moriah after unbinding Isaac, and explained in Genesis as meaning that God will be revealed there) is placed in front of "Shalem". The plural ending implies the community of all believers in the One God who testify to the city's holiness.
Archaeological findings indicate the existence of a settlement in Jerusalem in the 3rd millennium BCE. The earliest written record of the city to Egyptian records of the Bronze Age in the 2nd millennium BCE.
The city is believed to have been first built and founded by Canaanite peoples (possibly, but not necessarily the Jebusites who occupied the city during the late Bronze Age). During this Canaanite period, Jerusalem had the name Urušalim, meaning "the city of peace". From about 1600 to 1300 BCE, the city came under Egyptian suzerainty and was governed by Canaanite rulers who paid tribute to the Pharaohs.  During this period, the city increasingly came under attacks from the Habiru.
According to Midrash, Jerusalem was founded by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham. Further, the Bible mentions that the city was controlled by the Jebusites until its conquest by David, at a date subsequently placed at about 1000 BCE.
David expanded the city to the south, and declared it the capital city of the united Kingdom of Israel. It thus became the capital of the Jewish kingdoms of Israel, Judah and Judea in the First Temple and Second Temple periods.
In about 960 BCE, Solomon built the First Jewish Temple. For about four centuries after the ten tribes split off to form the northern Kingdom of Israel, Jerusalem served as the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah.
By the end of the First Temple period, Jerusalem was the sole acting religious shrine in the kingdom, and a center of regular pilgrimage. Historical records corroborate some of the Biblical history from around the 9th century BCE, and attest the significance of the Temple in Jewish religious life. In 597 BCE, the city was overcome by the Babylonians under Nebuchadrezzar, and in 586 BCE, the city's walls were ruined and the Temple was burnt. After several decades of captivity, the Jews were allowed by Cyrus II of Persia to return to Judah and rebuild the city and the Temple. It continued to be the capital of Judah and center of Jewish worship for another four centuries under the Hasmonean Kingdom.
By 19 BCE, the Temple Mount was elevated and the Second Temple was expanded under Herod the Great, a Jewish client king under Roman rule. In 6 CE, the city and Iudaea Province came under direct Roman rule. The Great Jewish Revolt resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The city served as the national capital again for almost 3 years during the Bar Kokhba's revolt against Rome; it was sacked in 135 CE. For almost two millennia thereafter, Jerusalem did not serve as the national capital of any independent state, until the renewed independence of Israel in 1948.
The city remained under Roman and Byzantine rule, until it was taken by the advancing Muslim forces in 638. The rights of the non-Muslims under Islam were governed by the Pact of Umar, and Christians and Jews living in the city were granted autonomy in exchange for a required poll tax. Whereas the Byzantine Christian authorities had not tolerated the presence of Jews within the walls of the city, the Muslim rulers allowed the reestablishment of a Jewish community.<ref>Peter, 186</ref> After the treaty of Capitulation signed with the Byzantines, Umar ordered the Patriarch Sophronius to guide him and those who accompanied him to the sanctuary of King David, where he later decided to build a mosque in front of the Rock. The mosque became known as Masjid Umar.
In 1099, the city was conquered by the First Crusaders, who slaughtered most of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. A series of conquests followed: in 1187 the city was taken from the Crusaders by Saladin. From 1228 to 1244, it was given by Saladin's descendant al-Kamil to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.
In 1917, the British Army led by General Allenby captured the city. Under the League of Nations Mandate, Britain was entrusted with establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine. This period saw the construction of new garden suburbs in the western part of the city and establishment of institutions of learning such as the Hebrew University, founded in 1925.
As the British Mandate of Palestine was expiring, the 1947 UN Partition Plan (Part III) recommended that "The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations." However, this plan was never implemented and at the end of the 1948-49 war, Jerusalem found itself divided between Israel and Jordan (then known as Transjordan).
The 1949 cease-fire line between Israel and Jordan, which was part of the Green Line, 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. From 1950 to 1967, the capital declared by Israel was comprised of western Jerusalem. Ever since Israel captured eastern Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has administered and asserted sovereignty over the entire city.
Israel's 1980 Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel declared Jerusalem to be the 'eternal, undivided' capital of Israel, while East Jerusalem is being claimed as the intended capital of a future Palestinian state. The status of the city and of its holy places is disputed.
 Status of Jerusalem
 Religious significance
Jerusalem plays an important role in three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as in a number of smaller religious groups. A large number of places have religious significance for these religions, among which the Temple Mount and its Western Wall for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock for Muslims. Currently, there are 1204 synagogues, 158 churches and 73 mosques in Jerusalem.<ref>Jerusalem website religious facilities</ref> There are also 70 mikvahs and 72 monastries.
The Western Wall
Main entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
 Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
- See also: Positions on Jerusalem
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