Who has been in control of Jerusalem the longest?

Review: The first step towards the annexation of East Jerusalem

Jerusalem was neither a trigger nor a war target, but the conquest of the east of the city was to change the situation permanently. Just days after the Six Day War, on June 28, 1967, Israel extended the area of ​​responsibility of its city administration - which had previously only been responsible for West Jerusalem - to include the entire city, thus taking the first step towards the formal annexation of East Jerusalem, which did not follow until 1980. These changes can still be felt today and they are a major stumbling block on the way to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

1948: The division

Actually everything should have turned out differently: In 1947 the United Nations presented a partition plan for Palestine, according to which this area was to be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state. Something very special had been thought of for Jerusalem: the city should not be added to either state, but should be internationalized.

Jerusalem was then divided in the war of 1948: After the founding of Israel, the old city was under Jordanian administration, while West Jerusalem was under Israeli administration. Minefields, barbed wire fences and high walls separated the two parts from each other: the only passage for foreigners, diplomats and pilgrims was the almond tree gate. Israelis were not allowed to use it, even though their highest sanctuary, the Western Wall, was now in the Jordanian-controlled part of the city.

1967: The pseudo-unit

With the Six Day War, the dividing walls fell and the myth of the reunified city emerged. The residents of both sides were now able to move around Jerusalem without hindrance, but they never became a unit: the Arab residents continue to feel occupied, the Israeli as the real masters of the city. For most of them it is unthinkable that even East Jerusalem could one day become the capital of a Palestinian state.

This feeling was deepened on June 28, 1967, when Israel decided to extend the jurisdiction of the West Jerusalem city government to include the nearly six square kilometers of Altstaft and a number of suburbs. The main reason was initially that this part of the city could not be left without municipal services - such as garbage collection or street cleaning. For some Israelis, however, there was also the hope of undoing the division of the past 29 years and claiming ownership of the whole city themselves.

1980: The official annexation

However, it was not a political annexation. Not yet. Such a step would also have meant that the Arabs in East Jerusalem would have had to be made citizens of Israel or foreigners in their own country by administrative act. When the official annexation took place in 1980, it was decided to use the second variant. In 1967 the Arab residents were offered the option of becoming Israelis. Hardly anyone accepted the offer.

No solution to date

And although the Arabs of East Jerusalem subsequently also voted in local council elections, none of them allowed themselves to be elected and elected: all of Jerusalem continues to be administered by a Jewish-Israeli municipal council and a Jewish-Israeli city administration.

This city administration collects taxes and provides services in the Arab East. But if she invites you to a reception in the old town, then the old separation of Jerusalem becomes evident again: The consulate representatives stationed in Jerusalem get an extra table set up outside the old town wall, where they take part in the reception - on old Israeli territory, so to speak. And this despite the fact that these consulates - which are only responsible for Jerusalem - even go one step further: They maintain the international status of the city, which was decided by the UN in 1947, but which has always remained a fiction.