National Geographic : 1983 Apr
The coveted sanctuary of three faiths FEW STRUGGLES have so transfixed the world as those that have swirled from Sinai to Lebanon since the end of World War II. Few have carried greater danger of growing into worldwide conflagration. At the eye of the storm sits Jerusalem, on the spine of the Judaean Mountains at a crossing of major north-south and east-west routes. Among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, the site was settled by at least 3000 B.C. in a mountainous setting as dramatic as the events for which it was to be the cradle. After capturing the fortified city from the Canaanites about 1000 B.C., King David made his capital here to unite the tribe of Judah with the northerly tribes of Israel on neutral ground. Jerusalem would never again be neutral to any Jew. A 50-year exile in the sixth Phra tes century B.C. presaged a longer exile in the diaspora ordered by Rome in A.D. 135. Jews were allowed to return some 500 years later, but not until the 19th century did Jerusalem again have a Jewish majority. From Roman times until the mid-20th century, the city was ruled by Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, and British. A 1947 United Nations plan to partition British-mandated Palestine into Arab and Jewish states failed to take effect as bitter fighting broke out between Jews and Arabs. Proposed as an international zone, Jerusalem was left instead a divided city when cease-fire lines drew the borders Israel knew from 1949 until 1967. The Six Day War then reunited the city under Jewish rule for the first time in 18 centuries. Declared the capital of Israel in 1949, Jerusalem had its boundaries redrawn in 1967 to include nearby villages, fields, and open land. In 1980 the Knesset reaffirmed it as the capital "united in its entirety." Originally made capital by King David, Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylonian conquest in 587 B.C. but restored under Persian rule a half century later. Following defeat of the Turks in World War I, Britain administered Jerusalem, allowing Jewish and Arab immigrants to surge into the city. The United Nations proposed separate Arab and Jewish states for Palestine, with Jerusalem under UN control, a plan made moot by war in 1948. The State of Israel, secured by arms in 1948, claimed West Jerusalem; it remained divided from Jordanian-held Jerusalem for 19 years. In 1967 Israel overran East Jerusalem and greatly enlarged the united city's borders. Since then the population has grown by half.