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Ziad J. Asali, M.D. Headshot

The Background on Jerusalem in International Relations

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Numerous recent developments have reconfirmed the centrality of Jerusalem to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unilateral Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem,including the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, building plans in Silwan, plans for the demolition of Palestinian homes in several parts of the city, controversial archaeological excavations, the rededication of a restored synagogue, and the announcement of 1,600 new settler housing units in Ramat Sholmo announced during the visit of VP Joseph Biden -- along with violent confrontations between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters -- all point to the extraordinary significance of Jerusalem to the conflict and a peaceful resolution based on two states.

These developments are perceived as prejudicing permanent status issues and therefore complicating a resumption of talks, and undermining the credibility of negotiations and the viability of a two-state agreement. Moreover, because of its symbolic importance, any deterioration in Jerusalem has the potential to spill beyond the boundaries of Israel and Palestine, and play into the hands of those who want to redefine the conflict as a religious war.

The fate of Jerusalem can no more be decided unilaterally by any party than the conflict can itself be resolved unilaterally by any single party. With this in mind, my colleagues and I at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) compiled the following set of background links to American, European, Quartet and United Nations statements regarding Jerusalem over the years to contextualize this renewed attention. It does not deal with the many other aspects that make Jerusalem a unique and incendiary issue, but it does lay out the fundamentals of international opinion on the question.

Selected US Presidential Statements on Jerusalem Selected Additional Sources on US policy towards Jerusalem Selected EU Statements on Jerusalem

Selected Quartet Statements on Jerusalem


Selected UN Security Council Resolutions on the Status of Jerusalem


Selected Recent General Assembly Resolutions on the Status of Jerusalem