To unify Jerusalem

JERUSALEM IS PERHAPS THE most potent symbol of the interrelated yet divided nature of the Middle East. People have written volumes on the subject, but at the risk of oversimplification, the essence of the problem is how to incorporate all the parties who feel they have a stake in the city. Keeping Jerusalem undivided has long been the aim of most mainstream Israeli political parties. The Palestinians say, however, that there can be no peace with Israel until the creation of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Jerusalem has been sacred to the Jews since King David proclaimed it his capital around 1000 bce. Christianity reveres the Holy City not only for its Biblical history but because of the role it played in Jesus' life, particularly his crucifixion and resurrection. Muslims believe that on Muhammad's Night of Ascension (c. 620 ce), he was miraculously transported from Mecca, in what is today Saudi Arabia, to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where he ascended to heaven.

These religious traditions are only one part of the tangled threads of Jerusalem's history that somehow need to be sorted out if there is to be an intelligent solution. But there's more to the debate than history. Day-to-day concerns such as healthcare, national insurance, university education, and other social services would inevitably be affected by any change in the city's status. (For deeper insights see "Jerusalem" on The Christian Science Monitor's website,

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January 19, 2009

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