Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people due to the Jewish people’s ancestral and religious connection with the holy city. As the peace process is progressing and the issue of whether to divide Jerusalem in half for both a Jewish capital and a Palestinian capital, people should be reminded of the historical, religious, and cultural importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish People. Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, insisted yesterday at the INSS Institute, that Jerusalem needs to remain united and under Israeli sovereignty. The overstated importance that Jerusalem remain united and under Israeli control is integral when one looks back into the turbulent historical background of the holy city and Jewish capital.

Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital since 1500 BCE when King David captured the city from the Jebusites. Following his death, his son, King Solomon, built the first holy temple which became the most sacred place where the Jewish people offered sacrifices while facing the temple during their prayer services. Many years later, the Babylonian king, king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and burned the temple in 597 B.C.E while displacing the ancient Israelite community.  Following the Persian ruler King Cyrus’s permission, the exiled Israelites were allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild the holy temple under King Herod. The ancient Israelites were defeated and exiled once again following the Roman invasion in 63 BC.

The only remaining part of the holy temple accessible to the Jewish people was the western wall surrounding the holy temple which became a pilgrimage site for Jews throughout the exile. The Roman assault led to the final destruction of the holy temple and began the current Jewish diaspora that lasted until the creation of the modern state of Israel.

Throughout history, Jerusalem has been occupied by various world empires including the Crusaders and Islamic empires. Jerusalem became the religious center to Islam and Christianity, the new monotheistic religions following the Jewish faith. Each foreign ruler forbade the Jewish residents from praying at their holy sites while imposing severe restrictions on the Jewish people living in occupied Palestine.

Following the independence war of 1948, Israel was reborn as a Jewish homeland with recognition from the UN, thus making the Jewish State a legitimate member among the nations of the world. The Jordanian government decided to annex East Jerusalem. The annexation caused the local Jewish residents to be displaced from their homes while the Jewish holy sites were desecrated. After the 1967 war, the Israeli forces were able to reunite Jerusalem from Jordanian control and declare Jerusalem the undivided capital of the state of Israel.

The Jewish people have profound ties to Jerusalem which has been their spiritual and physical capital for 3,000 years. Jewish people face Jerusalem when they pray no matter where they are located in the world. Jews have always prayed for the well being of Jerusalem and the messianic hope that there will be an in gathering of the Jewish people back to the holy city where the third temple will be built and restore the ancient religious services. Jerusalem is mentioned numerous times in the bible describing the importance of the holy city to the ancient Israelites and the Jewish faith.

Only under Israeli governance has freedom of worship and protection of every religion’s holy sites been ensured. Modern Jerusalem is a thriving industrial and religious city where industries are forming, commerce and entertainment is booming, and security among the various religious groups is maintained. Jerusalem must remain under Jewish control because only under Israeli control, the city can flourish and become a beacon of religious tolerance where all three monotheistic religions can pray together to the one God who destined Jerusalem as God’s chosen holy city.