The Controversial Capital of Israel


The capital of Israel
Jerusalem (left) and Tel Aviv (right).

For years, the official status of Jerusalem has been in flux. Claimed by both Israel and Palestine as their capital city, Jerusalem has long been a complicating factor in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The primary disagreement concerns the legal status of East Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem, which contains several important religious sites. Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest cities and is treasured as a holy place for three major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

To fully understand the breadth of this disagreement, we have to go back to the late 1940s, when a war resulting from Israel's declaration of independence created a city split in two. Israel controlled the western half of Jerusalem and Jordan controlled of the eastern half. Then, in 1967, Israel took control of East Jerusalem as well, gaining authority over the whole city. Nevertheless, Palestinians still view East Jerusalem as their capital, wishing to make it a Palestinian state.

Most countries locate their foreign embassies in Tel Aviv and its suburbs rather than in Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump recently recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and stated that the US embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.