Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:May 9th, 2010 10:36 EST
Jerusalem Day May 12, Marking Re-Opening of City to All

Jerusalem Day May 12, Marking Re-Opening of City to All

By SOP newswire2

On May 12, Israelis will celebrate Jerusalem Day, a national holiday commemorating Israel`s liberation of the city after fighting the defensive Six-Day War against Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967. As the various Arab armies amassed on Israel`s borders, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike rather than await imminent attack.[1]

Following the war, Israel reunited East and West Jerusalem , providing Christians, Muslims and Jews open, free and safe access to holy sites in the Old City[2] such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Via Dolorosa for Christians, the Temple Mount for Muslims and the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives for Jews.

Jerusalem has been the spiritual center of the Jewish people for thousands of years and also is Israel`s historic and current capital. Israelis and Jews around the world commemorate Jerusalem Day with celebratory events such as parties and special prayer services in synagogues.[3]

When Israel was established by the United Nations Partition Plan adopted on Nov. 29, 1947, Arab states rejected the plan and invaded Israel in May 1948. After Israel won the War of Independence, Israel maintained control of West Jerusalem while Jordan seized control of East Jerusalem including historically Jewish parts of the Old City. Jordan also controlled major Christian religious sites and did not allow Jews or Christians full access to those places, many of which were desecrated.[4]

Nineteen years after Jordan took control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jordan entered the Six-Day War of June 1967 alongside Egypt, whose president, Gamal Abdel Nasser stated his objective was to destroy Israel.[5] Despite heavy fighting, the Israeli army succeeded in pushing back Jordanian forces and taking control of the Old City, the Temple Mount and the rest of East Jerusalem.[6] Once under Israeli control, the city was reborn as Israel`s capital " a place that all religions could share.[7]

Today, Jerusalem is a mixed city with pockets of Jews and Arabs on both sides of what had been the dividing line between Israel and Jordan. Contrary to the popular myth that Jews live on one side of the Green Line " and Arabs on the other, the city was considered a mosaic " by former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and reflects that same diversity today.[8]

Jerusalem by the Numbers


  • 760,000: total residents[9]
  • 492,000: Jewish residents[10]
  • 268,000: Arab residents[11]

Population growth

  • 3 percent: increase in Arab population of Jerusalem in 2007[12]
  • 1 percent: increase in Jewish population in 2007[13]
  • 291 percent: increase in Arab population of Jerusalem between 1967 and 2008[14]
  • 149 percent: increase in Jewish population of Jerusalem between 1967 and 2008[15]

Construction in Jerusalem

  • 800: housing units planned for a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood in southern Jerusalem.[16]
  • 39 percent: proportion of Jerusalem`s Jewish and other non-Arab population living in neighborhoods built in areas added to the Jerusalem municipality after 1967[17]
  • 188,400: Jewish and other non-Arab residents of Jerusalem living in neighborhoods built in areas added to the city after 1967[18]
  • 92,000: expected increase in number of Arab residents of Jerusalem by 2020[19]
  • 140,000 people: capacity of land set aside by the Jerusalem Municipality for Arab housing construction[20]
  • 75,000-150,000 people: expected increase in number of Jewish residents of Jerusalem by 2020[21]
  • 44 percent: shortfall in the number of housing units required to accommodate Jewish growth in Jerusalem by 2020[22]
  • 6,000: number of Palestinian houses built in Jerusalem without permits between 1998 and 2002. Of these, 198, or 3.3 percent, were removed by Israel[23]
  • $30 million: funding provided to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by Saudi Arabia in the 1990s to build 10,000 housing units regardless of whether they had building permits. The Gulf States, such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have also provided millions of dollars for construction in East Jerusalem[24]
  • 500: housing units authorized to be built in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for the Arab sector in December 2009[25]
  • 114: illegal structures removed in Jerusalem in 2009[26]
  • 51: illegal structures removed in West Jerusalem in 2009[27]
  • 63: illegal structures removed in East Jerusalem in 2009[28]

East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule, 1949-1967

  • 4.6 percent: growth of Arab population in East Jerusalem during period of Jordanian rule from 1949-1967[29]
  • 291 percent: growth of Arab population in East Jerusalem during period of Israeli control, as of 2009[30]
  • 58: synagogues destroyed in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem`s Old City by Jordanian forces following their seizure of the area in 1948.[31]
  • 38,000: tombstones in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives destroyed by Jordanian forces following Jordan`s capture of East Jerusalem in 1948. Some of the tombstones were used to build fences and latrine floors for the Jordanian army, as well as to pave roads.[32]


  • 635: terrorist attacks in Jerusalem from September 2000 -- October 2005[33]
  • 30: suicide bombings in Jerusalem from September 2000 -- October 2005[34]
  • 211: people killed in Jerusalem in all terrorist attacks from September 2000 -- October 2005[35]
  • 1,643: people injured in all terrorist attacks from September 2000 -- October 2005[36]


  • 66: hotels in Jerusalem[37]
  • 9,112: hotel rooms in Jerusalem[38]
  • 1,077,900: tourists from abroad who stayed overnight in Jerusalem in 2008. Forty percent of overseas tourists visiting Jerusalem came from America and 44 percent came from Europe.[39]


  • 12: museums in Jerusalem[40]
  • 2,044,133: visitors in museums in Jerusalem in 2007[41]
  • 13: theaters in Jerusalem, including children`s theaters[42]
  • 459: different productions performed in Jerusalem theaters in 2005, including children`s productions[43]


  • 21,607: students enrolled in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2007, accounting for 17.8 percent of all students enrolled in universities in Israel[44]
  • 225,000: students enrolled in Jerusalem`s educational system in during the 2008-2009 school year[45]

Experts on Jerusalem

Stephan Miller
Foreign Media Spokesman for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Tel.: 972-2-629-7720

Dore Gold
President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN; former Israeli peace negotiator; author of The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City
Contact via Adam Shay, Media Coordinator for JCPA
Tel.: 972-2-563-2947

Dr. Guy Harpaz
Lecturer at Faculty of Law, Dept. International Relations at Hebrew University
Fields: International law; European Union law; International trade law; Conflict resolution; Regional economic integration; Peace advocacy
Cell: 972-50 684 8575 63

Professor Yehuda Blum
Legal status of Jerusalem
Tel.: 972-2-588-2562

Professor Efraim Inbar
Affiliation: Director of the Begin Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University
Field: Israel-Palestinian conflict; Israel-Palestinian negotiations; Turkey-Israel relations; U.S. - Israel relations
Cell: 972-54-660-3409
Tel.: 972-3-535-9198

Daniel Diker
Affiliation: Director of Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; serves as Knesset Affairs correspondent for Israel Broadcasting Authority`s English news.
Field: Political and Diplomatic aspects of Jerusalem; Israel-Palestinian conflict; Contemporary Middle Eastern affairs; Internal Palestinian conflict in Gaza
Cell: 972-50-532-7072