JERUSALEM – Jerusalem is not one city, but two. Nearly 50 years after Israel captured East Jerusalem, the city remains as divided as ever. As its neighborhoods suffer from a new wave of violence, acknowledging this reality is becoming increasingly urgent. Settling the status of Jerusalem – as two cities, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians – must be made a priority if peace between the two sides is ever to be achieved.
The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan called for the division of British-controlled Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, but it set aside Jerusalem as an independent enclave under international administration. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, however, the city was divided. West Jerusalem fell under Israeli control, and East Jerusalem – including the ancient Old City – was occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan.
The division endured until the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel rebuffed an attack by Jordan on the headquarters of the UN observers in West Jerusalem, and then invaded the rest of the city, along with the entire West Bank. After the war, Israel declared united Jerusalem as its capital, annexing more than 30 Arab villages to the municipality.
Both halves of the city have since remained under Israeli control, but neither has been internationally recognized as being legally part of the Jewish state. And no country acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Not a single embassy sits within the city limits; even the United States maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.