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Why Jerusalem is important to three major religions, and other questions answered

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A view of the Western Wall and the golden Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine on Dec. 6, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. © Lior Mizrahi, Getty Images A view of the Western Wall and the golden Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine on Dec. 6, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jerusalem has for decades been a flashpoint for global tensions as the nexus of three of the world's oldest religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here are some frequently asked questions about the ancient city. 

What does the Bible say about Jerusalem?

For Christians, Jesus, their messiah, died in Jerusalem and came back to life there. They trace his genealogy back to King David, who established the monarchy in Jerusalem and whose descendants, according to the Hebrew Bible, will include the messiah. 

Jerusalem is one of the main pilgrimage destinations for millions of Christians who visit the empty tomb of Jesus to pray at the site.

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Why is Jerusalem important to three major religions? 

Known in Hebrew as Yerushalayim and in Arabic as al-Quds, it is one of the oldest cities in the world. 

The religious importance of this city dates to the days of the Old Testament and 1050 B.C. when Israel's King David conquered Jerusalem. His son, Solomon, expanded on the construction David began, raising the Temple on the Mount that would later be finished by Herod. A remnant of a massive, western retaining wall for the temple ruins is now the Wailing Wall or Western Wall of Jewish prayer and pilgrimage.

Close by is the Muslim Dome of the Rock from where Mohammed ascended, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites. Christians travel to Jerusalem to follow the path Jesus walked before the crucifixion and visit the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre built by Crusaders in the 12th century over the site of Christ's tomb.

Who owns the city? 

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim the city’s eastern sector, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of a future independent state. These rival claims lie at the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While Israel controls the city and its government is based there, its annexation of east Jerusalem is not internationally recognized. The international community overwhelmingly says the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations.

Contributing: Associated Press 

 

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