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One of the most volatile and contentious issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the status of the city of #Jerusalem, a city revered by three major religious faiths. While Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinian state has laid claim to the city’s eastern sector, captured by #Israel during the 1967 war, as the capital of a future independent state of #Palestine. The conflict has been focused on the Old City, home to Jerusalem’s most sacred sites, in particular a hilltop compound revered by both #Muslims and Jews. For the #Jews, this is the Temple Mount where the biblical Jewish Temples stood, one of the holiest sites in #Judaism; for the Muslims, it is the #al-Aqsa #mosque, the third #holiest site in #Islam and home to the gold-topped Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem is also home to one of the holiest sites in #Christianity, including the #Church of the #Sepulchre, believed to have been built on the site of Christ’s #crucifixion and burial.

When Israel seized the city in 1967, 13 countries had maintained their embassies in the city which relocated to #TelAviv as the annexation was never recognised by the international community. The traditional #US position on the status of Jerusalem – that it must be negotiated between the two parties involved – was altered in 2017 when former president #DonaldTrump recognized the city as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv. The declaration carries huge symbolic meaning by imposing a solution that expressly favours the Israelis. America’s decision was met with trenchant criticism from international allies such as the European Union, the Arab League, #Germany, and #France. #Pope#Francis also joined the chorus calling for the “status quo” over Jerusalem to be maintained.

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