Jerusalem was established as the capital of Israel in 1949, the first time it had been the capital of an independent nation since the Jewish state was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 135 C.E.
Jews have been the largest population group in the city since the first half of the 19th century. Today Jerusalem is the most populous city in Israel, with over 800,000 residents, and the second most populous metro area, after Tel Aviv.
The city's status as Israel's capital remains unrecognized internationally, even though West Jerusalem would remain part of Israel in every peace deal proposed by America, and even though it has been Israel's capital since 1949. Many countries and the EU still officially support the idea of an international city. Most Arab countries don't recognize the State of Israel and therefore consider all Jerusalem to be occupied Arab land.
All Arab citizens of Jerusalem may vote in municipal elections and upon request are granted citizenship to vote in Israeli elections.
In a recent poll, only 30% of Jerusalem Arabs said that they would want their neighborhood to become part of a Palestinian state, and 40% said they would move to a different neighborhood to remain in Israel, should their neighborhood be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty.
Present-day Jerusalem was first settled at least 7,000 years ago and has fallen under the control of numerous states over its 4,000 years of recorded history. It was ruled by various ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Egyptian New Kingdom, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, and the Ptolemaic Kingdom, and served as the capital city of the Biblical Kingdom of Judah until the Babylonian Exile in 586 BCE. Following the Maccabean Revolt from 167 to 160 BCE, Jerusalem once again became the capital of a Jewish state, which was destroyed completely with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Following a period of rule by the Roman Empire and then by the Byzantine Empire, Jerusalem fell under control of the Caliphate in 637, just five years after Mohammed's death. Aside from two brief periods of crusader rule, Jerusalem was ruled by a series of Muslim Caliphates and Empires until the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. During its period of Muslim rule, Jerusalem was ruled from a number of ancient cities throughout the Middle East, located in present-day Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran.
Source: Jewish Virtual Library
Jerusalem fell under British control in 1917 and became part of the British Mandate for Palestine, which gave Britain control of present-day Jordan and Israel. Under the British Mandate, the population of the city rose from 52,000 in 1922 to 165,000 in 1948 and was about two thirds Jewish both at the start and end of the Mandate. The city saw Arab riots in 1920, which killed 5 Jews and 4 Arabs and injured hundreds more. In 1929, riots killed 133 Jews and 339 more were injured, while 110 Arabs were killed and 232 were injured. The vast majority were killed by British police trying to suppress the riots, which lasted for a week. In the last year of the British Mandate, war broke out between Jewish and Arab militias throughout the Mandate. The 1947 UN Partition Plan called for Jerusalem to be a UN-administered neutral city, but it never went into effect, as when the Mandate expired. The British withdrew their forces and Jewish leaders declared the independence of the State of Israel. The new state was then attacked on all fronts by local Arab militias and the armies of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
Source: Jewish Virtual Library
From 1948 to 1967, control of Jerusalem was split, with the western portion controlled by Israel and East Jerusalem, including the Old City, falling under Jordanian rule. All residents of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City were expelled and many of the Jewish-owned buildings destroyed or damaged by Arab looters and Jordanian forces. Muslim holy sites were maintained and renovated, while many Jewish sites were destroyed or desecrated. The Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem's main Ashkenazi Synagogue, was levelled by Arab Legion forces. In total, dozens of synagogues in the Old City were razed or converted for various uses during Jordanian rule. The 3,000-year-old Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetary was desecrated and the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, made a Muslim place of worship. Jewish access to the Old City was nonexistant during Jordanian rule and Christian access to holy sites was severely restricted. The Christian population of the city declined as a result of severe restrictions on the population imposed by the Jordanians.
In 1967, control of Jerusalem changed again in the Six-Day War. Israel preemptively attacked Egyptian and Syrian forces massing at Israel's borders, and on the second day of the war, Jordanian forces joined the second Arab campaign to annihilate Israel. Israel routed the Arab armies, taking control of Gaza and the Sinai from Egypt, the Golan from Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. After the war, the Jewish Quarter was repopulated and construction began on repairs to the buildings destroyed by the Jordanians. Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike have had access to their respective holy sites under Israeli rule ever since.
In 1980, the Knesset passed a Basic Law (akin to a Contitutional Amendment in the US) declaring Jerusalem Israel's eternal, undivided capital. However, in 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed a peace deal to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that called for an Israeli withdrawal from nearly all of the West Bank and even from East Jerusalem, including the Old City, which would become an international zone. Abbas rejected the proposal.
Jerusalem has been one of the primary targets of Palestinian terrorists since the rise of Palestinian terrorism in the sixties. Most recently, Jewish civilians and soldiers in Jerusalem, especially in settlements beyond the 1949 Armistice Line, have been targeted by dozens of terrorist attacks in the latest wave of Palestinian violence that began in October 2015. Though Israel has allowed Muslim access the the holy sites of the Temple Mount since 1967, only occasionally restricting access to prevent riots or terrorist attacks, both the Second Intifadah in the early 2000s and the 2015-2016 spate of attacks were caused by rumors, advanced by Palestinian officials, of an Israeli plot to raze the Muslim holy sites of the temple Mount compound.
By all accounts, Jerusalem's population was below 30,000 from at least the start of the Ottoman Era until the First Aliyah in the 1880s. Estimates of the population of Jerusalem in ancient times vary widely. Ancient estimates of inhabitants and casualties of war by Josephus, the Jewish historian; Sennacherib, the Assyrian King; Tacitus, the Roman historian; and many others put the population in Second Temple times in the hundreds of thousands or even over a million, but some more recent estimates are as low as 20,000 (Geva 2014). From the start of the First Aliyah to 2011, the city's population rose from around 20,000, split between similarly sized populations of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, respectively, to just over 800,000 in 2011, of which Jews comprised 497,000 (62%), Muslims 281,000 (35%), and Christians 14,000 (1.9%).
The Temple Mount:
Mishkenot Sha'ananim was the first neighborhood built outside the city walls of Jerusalem, built by Jews in 1860. From 1948 till 1967, Jewish residents in this neighborhood were subjected to sniper fire from the Jordanian controlled Old City.
Photo taken from the Israel Advocacy and Leadership Training Mission trip '13