|THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL|
seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty-three years reigned he in Jerusalem.
(I Kings 2:11)
With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jerusalem became once more the capital of a sovereign Jewish state. Throughout the millennia of its existence, Jerusalem has never been the capital of any other sovereign nation.
Jerusalem has stood at the center of the Jewish people’s national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdom in 1003 BCE. The city remained the capital of the Davidic dynasty for 400 years, until the kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians. Following the return from the Babylonian exile in 538 BCE, Jerusalem again served as the capital of the Jewish people in its land for the next five and a half centuries.
The Christian link with Jerusalem is essentially a religious one. Except for the short-lived Crusader kingdom, it has not assumed political or secular connotations. During the six centuries of Roman and Byzantine rule, Caesarea, not Jerusalem, was the capital.
During Muslim rule over the city, whether Arab or non-Arab, Jerusalem was never made the political capital of a Muslim entity or even a province within the Muslim empire. Under Muslim Arab rule (638 – 1099) by the Umayyad, the Abbasid and the Fatamid caliphs, Jerusalem was ruled from Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo respectively. In the eighth century, the city of Ramia was made the capital of the district which embraced Jerusalem.
During the period of Mamluk rule (1250- 1516), the Land was ruled from Damascus; in Ottoman times (1517 – 1917), from Constantinople.
Under British rule (1922-1948), Jerusalem was the seat of the High Commissioner and most administrative offices of the Mandate, as well as of the central institutions of the growing Jewish community.
From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was a city divided as a result of a war thrust upon her. For nineteen years, concrete walls and barbed wire sealed off one part of the city from the other. Its eastern section, including the Old City, was annexed by Jordan, and ruled from its capital, Amman. The western sector of Jerusalem became Israel’s capital.
Following another war in June 1967, Jerusalem was reunited. The barriers dividing the city were demolished, the gates of the Old City were opened to people of all faiths, and the eastern sector was reintegrated into the nation’s capital.
In July 1980 the Knesset passed the Basic Law – Jerusalem, which restated Israel’s rights and obligations concerning the capital. The Law affirmed that the holy places of all religions be protected from desecration, free access to them be guaranteed, and the Government provide for the development and the prosperity of the city and the well-being of its inhabitants.