This was the question left unanswered by the class on Monday when we studied the different arguments for Jerusalem being Israeli or Palestinian.
So let’s try to answer it! Using an excellent BBC webpage about the History of Israel and Palestine we learn that in 1250 BC the Israelites began to conquer and settle the land of Canaan on the eastern Mediterranean coast. There was then the reign of King Solomon (961-922 BC) and the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Solomon’s reign was followed by the division of the land into two kingdoms. In 586 BC the southern kingdom, Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians, who drove its people, the Jews, into exile and destroyed Solomon’s Temple. After 70 years the Jews began to return and Jerusalem and the temple were gradually rebuilt.
It was then in 638 AD that there was the conquest by Arab Muslims and the second caliph of Islam, Omar, built a mosque at the site of what is now the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in the early years of the 8th Century. Apart from the age of the Crusaders (1099-1187), the region remained under Muslim rule until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th Century.
So do we need to think about who got there first or who was there the longest?
In fact maybe we need to look at more recent history to consider whether territory is more Israeli or Palestinian. It was in the 1920s and 1930s that a Zionist movement saw hundreds of thousands of Jews emigrating to what was then a Palestine run and managed by the British (British Mandate Palestine). In 1922 11% of the population in Palestine were Jewish.
Then in 1947 the British handed over the ‘problem’ to the UN who consequently decided to partition the territory into Israeli and Palestinian land. The map below shows what happened and in other moves since:
This is such a complicated conflict and one we’re likely to hear about over many years to come. Just take care when searching for information online that you check the source as there is a lot of bias information in favour of the different sides.