During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world.
Given the city’s central position in both Israeli nationalism and Palestinian nationalism, the selectivity required to summarise more than 5,000 years of inhabited history is often influenced by ideological bias or background (see Historiography and nationalism). For example, the Jewish periods of the city’s history are important to Israeli nationalists, whose discourse states that modern Jews descend from the Israelites and Maccabees, while the Islamic periods of the city’s history are important to Palestinian nationalists, whose discourse suggests that modern Palestinians descend from all the different peoples who have lived in the region. As a result, both sides claim the history of the city has been politicized by the other in order to strengthen their relative claims to the city, and that this is borne out by the different focuses the different writers place on the
The Old City (Hebrew: העיר העתיקה, Ha’Ir Ha’Atiqah, Arabic: البلدة القديمة, al-Balda al-Qadimah, Armenian: Հին Քաղաք, Hin K’aghak’ ) is a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem. Until 1860, when the Jewish neighborhood, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem. 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 and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1981.
Traditionally, the Old City has been divided into four uneven quarters, although the current designations were introduced only in the 19th century. Today, the Old City is roughly divided into the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Old City was captured by Jordan and the Jewish residents were evicted. During the Six-Day War in 1967, which saw hand to hand fighting on the Temple Mount, Israel captured the Old City alongside the rest of East Jerusalem, subsequently annexing them to Israeli territory and reuniting them with the western part of the city. Today, Israel controls the entire area, which it considers part of its national capital. In 2010, Jerusalem’s oldest fragment of writings was found outside of the Old City’s walls. The Jerusalem Law of 1980 effectively annexing East Jerusalem to Israel was declared by UN Security Council Resolution 478 null and void and East Jerusalem is regarded by the international community as part of the occupied Palestinian territory.