November 6, 2008 / 10:50 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: Jerusalem, a city at the heart of conflict

(Reuters) - Jerusalem, where voters choose a new mayor in an Israeli election on Nov 11 that Palestinian residents say they will boycott, lies at the heart of conflict in the Middle East.

Here are some key facts about the city:


Situated 760 meters (2,500 feet) up in the hills between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, Jerusalem has been settled for 5,000 years. It became the center of Jewish religion and nationhood. Muslims revere it as the site of Prophet Mohammad’s ascension to heaven. For Christians, it saw the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Britain took Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks in World War One and ruled Palestine for the following three decades.


Under a 1947 U.N. plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, Jerusalem and its region were to be a separate entity under U.N. rule.

In fighting in 1948, Jewish forces took Jerusalem’s western suburbs and land linking it to the new Israeli state. Major powers accepted a de facto divide along a fortified line between Jewish West Jerusalem and Jordanian-ruled East Jerusalem, which included the Old City.

Then as now, however, no formal sovereignty over Jerusalem was recognized by the U.N. and international powers.

In a 1967 war, Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. Israel later annexed East Jerusalem and surrounding West Bank villages into a Jerusalem municipality it declared its united and eternal capital. World powers do not recognize that.

Jerusalem now has 740,000 residents, 34 percent of whom are Palestinians.

Editing by Charles Dick

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