Episode 7 Fact 2: Jerusalem

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The ancient city of Jerusalem lies west of the Dead Sea and is widely agreed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first settlement was established around 3500-4000 BCE with the first mention of the city, ‘Rusalimum’, in 2000 BCE in the Middle Kingdom Egyptian Execration Texts. Etymology suggests that the ‘S-L-M’ root of the word refers to ‘peace’ (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic or Hebrew) or ‘Shalim’ the god of Dusk in the Canaanite region.

The Egyptian power over the region started to decline around the 12th century BCE, giving way to the collapse of the Bronze Age and the rise of independent tribal kingdoms. This change of power was to mark the beginning of around 3,000yrs of conquest and defeat. In short, Jerusalem has been attacked 55 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times and rebuilt twice.

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Today the Old City is made up of 4 quarters, the Muslim quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Armenian quarter and the Christian quarter. The Muslim Quarter is the largest and most populated of the four while the Christian Quarter is the most visited because it includes the site of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection—the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

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Jerusalem has a population of 821,000 made up of 509,000 Jewish Israelis, 300,000 Palestinians and 12,000 other.  93% of the city budget is allocated to Jewish Israeli citizens and only 7% for Palestinians. There has been ongoing land theft with 87% of land in East Jerusalem zoned to prevent Palestinian construction, resulting of a housing shortage of 43,000. From the very outset of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, it instituted a planning development and construction policy whereby construction by Palestinians was restricted while Israeli settlements were allocated very extensive areas for establishment and expansion. Israel thereby created a situation where thousands of Palestinians are forced - as the only recourse for housing their families - to build unlicensed homes. This remains the policy in Area C, the area still under full Israeli control, which comprise approx 60% of the West Bank.

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Ref: Btselem, UNOCHA, Times of Israel, UNCTADA

Episode FactsClea Pettit