Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Jerusalem: Recognizing the Pre-eminent Jewish Attachment

Israel and the Jewish people have a pre-eminent religious, historical and political attachment with Jerusalem.  While the Haram al-Sharif and the Via Dolorosa have significance to Muslims and Christians respectively, Jerusalem – Mount Zion, the City of David, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall – has *centrality* only for Jews.  Jerusalem  Jews have kept not only a spiritual but a physical attachment to Jerusalem, with devout Jews maintaining communities in the city despite centuries of poverty, persecution, and exile. has been the political capital only of the Jewish nation, beginning when King David named it the capital of the first Jewish Kingdom.

During its 3000-year history, only during Jordan’s 19-year occupation (1948-1967) was Jerusalem physically divided.  Jordan prevented Israelis from worshipping at Jewish holy places in the Old City and ancient synagogues and cemeteries were systematically desecrated and destroyed.

When the city was reunified in the Six Day War, Israelis vowed to never permit Jerusalem to be divided again.  At the same time, Israel took extraordinary steps to safeguard the rights of all Jerusalem residents.  Functional autonomy was granted to local religious authorities, including the Islamic *waqf*, municipal services were upgraded in Arab neighbourhoods, and civil order and good governance benefiting all residents was maintained.

At the Camp David-Taba talks (2000-2001) Israel and the United States put forward creative ideas for addressing the Jerusalem issue, including ceding to the Palestinians Arab neighbourhoods of eastern Jerusalem and dividing the Old City along religious lines and sharing sovereignty over the Temple Mount.  Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat categorically rejected these ideas, instead demanding exclusive Palestinian and Islamic sovereignty over the OldCity.   Arafat effectively denied the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Jerusalem, and by extension to the land of Israel, when he told U.S. President Bill Clinton that there was no evidence of a Jewish historical or religious connection with any part of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Viable settlement of the Jerusalem issue is possible only when Israel and the Jewish people’s pre-eminent attachment with the city is recognized and respected.