The Middle East is not short on drama. Things in the region are magnified by perfect faith and distorted by perceived foresight. The people in the land are The People of The Land. Their collective perspective has long ago been blurred by reading texts about ethereal matters too closely.
To wit, Arabs have stated a quest for a new country with a capital city they call “East Jerusalem”. The small matter that seems to escape them is that it doesn’t exist.
Jerusalem was founded 4000 years ago. In the city’s turbulent history, it reached religious heights and was vanquished many times. Still, in all but 19 of those 4000 years, it remained a single united city.
In 1947, the United Nations considered expanding the borders of the city and put forth a plan to create a “Holy Basin” which was to include Greater Jerusalem and Greater Bethlehem. The proposed entity would have housed the significant religious sites of the three monotheistic religions and been under international control. The Arabs rejected the proposal and five Arab armies attacked the new State of Israel in 1948 with the stated objective of destroying the country completely.
At the end of that war, the Jordanians seized and unilaterally annexed the eastern part of the Jerusalem and renamed it “East Jerusalem”. The joyful Jordanians gave the Palestinian Arabs Jordanian citizenship, but evicted all Jews from their “East Jerusalem”.
So the spiritual center of Judaism was stolen by the Jordanians. From 1949 to 1967, (0.5% of the city’s existence), the Jordanians banned Jews from the eastern part of Jerusalem.
In 1967, the Jordanians (which included Arabs from Palestine who were granted Jordanian citizenship) attacked Israel again, and lost the eastern half of the city. Israel dismantled the barbed wire that split the city and reunited Jerusalem. “East Jerusalem” existed no more.
In 1995, in an effort to establish peace in the region, Israel handed control of Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority, thereby giving half of the “Holy Basin” to the Arabs. The “Holy Basin” sat divided, but not Jerusalem.
Remarkably, despite the short dark blip in history 46 years ago, and current control of Bethlehem, the Arabs contend that East Jerusalem still exists and always existed. Should it surprise anyone that when it comes to Jerusalem, people would try to turn a 0.5% molehill into owning the Temple Mount?