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Jerusalem: a City for All

The Holy See has always called for respect for the United Nations Resolutions on Jerusalem, a Holy City for the three monotheistic religions.

By Sergio Centofanti

Jerusalem is a sacred city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. King David chose it as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel some 3000 years ago. In Jerusalem, Jesus lived, died and rose again 2000 years ago. In Jerusalem, according to the Koranic tradition, about 1400 years ago Mohammed made a mystical journey to heaven.

The status quo of Jerusalem

The political history of the city is inextricably tied to the events of these three monotheistic religions. In 1852, the Ottoman Empire issued a "status quo" decree freezing the question of the ownership of the disputed religious sites on this date.

Israel proclaims Jerusalem as capital city

In 1947, the UN, with Resolution 181, established the Plan of Partition of Palestine destined to resolve the conflict between Jews and Arabs, which exploded during the British Mandate, proposing the coexistence of two States, one Jewish, the other Arab, with Jerusalem under international control.

On 14 May 1948, the birth of the State of Israel was unilaterally declared: the Arab-Israeli war broke out. The city was divided into two sectors: West Jerusalem, inhabited by Jews, and East Jerusalem, inhabited by Arabs. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel also occupied the eastern part of the country. In 1980, the Knesset proclaimed Jerusalem "the eternal, unique and indivisible capital" of the State of Israel, without the recognition of the international community.

Holy See: respecting UN resolutions

In December 2017, US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Holy See's Delegation to the UN, again in December 2017, made a statement during the General Assembly's debate on the US decision, recalling "the obligation of all nations to respect the historic status quo of the Holy City, in conformity with the relevant UN Resolutions". "The unique identity of Jerusalem, which is of universal interest - it is stressed - consists in its particular nature as a Holy City, sacred to the three monotheistic religions and a symbol for millions of believers throughout the world who consider it their 'spiritual capital'. Its meaning goes beyond the question of borders and this reality should be considered a priority in any negotiation for a political solution”.

The Vatican Delegation called for "a peaceful resolution that respects the nature of Jerusalem, its sacredness and its universal value", reaffirming that "only a guaranteed status at the international level can preserve its unique character and be a guarantee of dialogue and reconciliation for peace in the region". On May 14, 2018 the U.S. Embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Pope Francis: Jerusalem, city for all peoples

Pope Francis has often spoken about Jerusalem.

In his speech to the Diplomatic Corps on January 8, 2018, he appealed to Israelis and Palestinians, inviting them "to consider every initiative so as to avoid exacerbating the conflicts". He has repeatedly stressed the position of the Holy See on the issue.

During a meeting in Bari with leaders of the Churches and Christian communities of the Middle East on 7 July 2018, the Pope said:

"We look to Jerusalem, a city for all peoples, a unique and sacred city for Christians, Jews and Muslims from all over the world, whose identity and vocation must be preserved beyond the various disputes and tensions, and whose status quo demands to be respected as decided by the international community and repeatedly requested by the Christian communities of the Holy Land. Only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians, firmly desired and favored by the Community of Nations, can lead to a stable and lasting peace, and ensure the coexistence of two states for two peoples”.

30 March 2019, 18:05