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Seeking a Path for Jerusalem: A Chronology


Jerusalem is home to some of the world’s holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here, the Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site of Islam. ANDREW SHIVA/CREATIVE COMMONS

Here is a brief political history of Jerusalem, in timeline format, dating from the earliest human settlement to the present. The chronology is selective, focusing primarily on the development of competing visions over the years of the ancient city’s past and future. The timeline accompanies a separate article, “Jerusalem’s Fate: Myth Versus Reality,” by Irwin Arieff, published on

In the timeline, dates and descriptions for some events occurring roughly before 700 BCE (Before the Common Era) come from texts such as the Hebrew bible — Old Testament — written long after the events they describe, and so must be weighed in that context. Throughout, some dates are best guesses due to conflicting information from multiple sources.

5000 BCE: The site now known as Jerusalem is first visited by humans more than 7,0000 years ago, according to Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “Jerusalem: The Biography.” Permanent settlements first appear around 3500 BCE, scholars estimate. By some accounts, the area becomes known as “Urusalim,” but there is little agreement among scholars on the name’s origins. It may refer to the “dwelling place of Shalim,” the Canaanite god of dawn, or perhaps derives from the Assyrian for “the city of peace.” Pottery shards found on the site have been dated to 3200 BCE.

1676 BCE: Abraham, a figure often cited as the founding father of the Jewish people who appears in both the Old Testament and the Quran, travels at God’s command to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem — or, alternatively, to Mount Marwah in Mecca — to sacrifice his son. Recognizing Abraham’s obedience as proof of his faith, God spares the son’s life; promises to eternally watch over Abraham and his descendants; and grants them an eternal right to the surrounding land, according to the Old Testament. The spot where Abraham builds an altar to carry out the sacrifice later becomes known as the Temple Mount, the site of the Jews’ first and second great temples and the holiest place in Judaism.

1003 BCE: The biblical King David conquers Jerusalem and declares it the capital of the Jewish kingdom known as Judea.

967 BCE: David’s son, the biblical King Solomon, succeeds David as ruler of Judea and soon builds the Jews’ first great temple there.

926 BCE: After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam succeeds him as ruler as the kingdom splits in two: Israel in the north and Judea in the south.

733 BCE: The Assyrians transform Judea into a vassal state; 12 years later, they conquer Israel.

605 BCE: The Assyrians are conquered by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar II sacks Jerusalem and takes its aristocracy into captivity.

586 BCE: Nebuchadnezzar II quashes a rebellion in Jerusalem, destroying the city and its temple and exiling the Jews to Babylonia.

539 BCE: King Cyrus II of Persia, or Cyrus the Great, invades Babylonia and seizes its empire. He invites Judeans to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple on its original site. Work on the second great temple begins in 520 BCE and is completed about five years later.

334 BCE: Alexander the Great of Macedonia seizes the Persian Empire, bringing on Hellenistic rule but leaves Jerusalem untouched. Fifteen to 20 years later, Ptolemy I seizes Jerusalem and Judea comes under his control.

198 BCE: The Seleucid Empire takes Judea. About 30 year later, Seleucid King Antiochus IV, also known as Epiphanes, outlaws Judaism and pillages the second temple.

164 BCE: The Maccabees, who are traditional Jews, recapture Jerusalem and restore the temple, establishing an independent Hasmonean Kingdom.

63 BCE: The Romans capture Jerusalem and bring Judea under Roman control.

40 BCE: The Hasmoneans drive the Romans out of the city.

39 BCE: The Romans depose the Hasmoneans and install King Herod as Judea’s ruler. Jerusalem becomes a major hub for Jewish pilgrims from across the Roman Empire. About 20 years later, Herod starts rebuilding the Second Temple.

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6 BCE: Jesus Christ is born sometime between 6 and 4 BCE near Jerusalem, a city where he subsequently lives, preaches, dies and is resurrected, most biblical scholars believe. He is crucified some time between 30 and 36 CE.

66 CE (Common Era): Jews rise up against Roman rule, prompting the Romans to raze Jerusalem and destroy the second temple. Emperor Hadrian later builds a new city named Aelia Capitolina, dedicated to Jupiter, and bans Jews and Christians from the city.

313: Christianity is legalized throughout the Roman Empire, and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre is founded in Jerusalem, bringing Christian rule to Israel for the next 300 years.

326: Construction begins on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed at the time to stand on the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and tomb.

570: The prophet Muhammad, Islam’s central figure, is born in Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia.

610: Muhammad announces that Muslims, when they pray, must face toward Jerusalem. But 14 years later, he switches the direction to Mecca.

A Jerusalem market, 1898. 

636: A few years after Muhammad’s death, Muslim leader Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab conquers Jerusalem and builds a Muslim house of prayer on the great Jewish temples’ presumed site. Known as the Al Aqsa Mosque, it is completed in 701. Jerusalem is renamed El Quds (“the Holy City” in Arabic) and Jews are readmitted to the city.

1099: Angered by the Muslim takeover of the Christian holy land, the knights of the First Crusade capture Jerusalem and massacre most Muslim and Jewish inhabitants.

1187: Kurdish General Saladin, a Muslim, overthrows the Crusaders and allows Jews and Muslims to return to Jerusalem.

1229: Jerusalem reverts to Christian control for 15 years under an agreement between Crusaders and Kurds.

1250: Jerusalem returns to Muslim rule as the Mamluks, members of a Muslim slave army, grab an area stretching from Egypt to Syria and hang onto it for more than 260 years.

1517: The Ottomans, defeating the Mamluks, take control of a sprawling empire that includes Israel and Jerusalem and rule it for 400 years until the end of World War I.

1838: Britain opens the first foreign consulate in Jerusalem, followed by other European nations.

1880s: A steady trickle of Jews begins migrating to Palestine to escape persecution in Europe. By about 1890, enough Jews have turned up in Jerusalem to constitute a majority of the city’s population for the first time since 66 CE.

1894: French military officer Alfred Dreyfus goes on trial for treason. His lawyer, Theodor Herzl, sees Dreyfus as a victim of French anti-Semitism and develops a vision of the Jewish people transplanted to the “promised land.” Herzl is widely recognized as the founding father of modern Zionism, a movement to set up a Jewish homeland in what is now Israel.

1916: The British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, makes a secret commitment to Hussein bin Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina, namely: if the Arabs support Britain in World War I, Britain will back creation of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine.

1917: In conflict with McMahon’s secret commitment, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour issues a declaration expressing support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people . . . it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. . . . ” A month later, the British defeat the Ottomans in the Battle of Jerusalem.

1921-22: Acting under a mandate granted by the League of Nations, the British divide a tract of land that now includes Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan into two parts: to the west of the Jordan River lies Palestine, and to the east lies Transjordan, a tract about three times bigger than Palestine. Abdullah I bin al-Hussein, a son of Hussein bin Ali, is named Transjordan’s leader. The mandate authorizes Britain to establish in Palestine “a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. . . . ” Transjordan’s designation as a separate Arab protectorate leaves a far smaller piece of land to accommodate both its Arab residents and a Jewish homeland. The mandate takes effect on Sept. 29, 1923, and expires on May 14, 1948.

March 11, 1924: Under the mandate, Transjordan is designated custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.

1933: Jewish migration to Palestine, already accelerating, picks up sharply after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. British census figures show the Jewish population more than tripling from 1922 to 1937, while the Muslim population rises 49 percent over the same period, according to Montefiore’s “Jerusalem: The Biography.”

1936: Arab anger over the surge in Jewish migrants triggers an Arab revolt that is quashed by the British with the help of Zionist militias.

1939: Britain issues a white paper restricting Jewish migration and land-ownership rights in Palestine. In World War II, spanning 1939-45, the Germans exterminate millions of people, including six million Jews.

1946: Transjordan is declared an independent nation and takes the name Jordan.

Nov. 29, 1947: The United Nations General Assembly adopts Resolution 181 (II), calling for the partition of Palestine into neighboring Arab and Jewish states after the British mandate expires. Under the resolution, “The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.” The Latin term corpus separatum refers to a city or region that is separately administered from its surroundings but lacks sovereignty.

May 14, 1948: On the day the British mandate formally ends, the Jewish Agency, chartered by the League of Nations in 1922 to work for “the advancement of a Jewish national home in Palestine,” declares the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel.

May 15, 1948: Neighboring Arab states send troops to assist Palestinians fighting to block Jewish statehood. The invasion becomes known as the Arab Israeli War, or the Israeli War of Liberation. The fighting lasts about 10 months, interrupted by several truces. Israeli forces end up mostly victorious, capturing 85 percent of Jerusalem.

December 1948: The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 194 (III) recognizing the “right of return” of Arab refugees driven from their homes by the war and calling for compensation for those choosing not to reclaim their homes. The measure also calls for the demilitarization and internationalization of Jerusalem and free access to, and protection of, the city’s holy places, under UN supervision.

April 3, 1949: Israel and Jordan sign an armistice authorizing them to informally divide Jerusalem’s administration between themselves. Jordan ends up in de facto control of the eastern parts of Jerusalem and Israel in de facto control of its western parts. The city remains informally divided by barbed wire and minefields until 1967.

May 11, 1949: Israel becomes a UN member pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 273 (III), which reiterates that Israel demilitarize and internationalize Jerusalem.

Dec. 5, 1949: Despite the deal with Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declares Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel. While Israel “has voluntarily accepted the principle of international supervision of the Holy Places in the city, we cannot conceive that the United Nations will try to tear Jerusalem from Israel or to impair the sovereignty of Israel in its Eternal Capital,” he tells the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

May 29, 1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization is founded at a congress in East Jerusalem.

June 5, 1967: The Six-Day War breaks out, pitting Israel against Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

June 7, 1967: Israeli troops seize the Old City — the ancient core of Jerusalem — and the West Bank from Jordan, claiming Jewish control over the area for the first time since 70 CE. The Israeli annexation adds to West Jerusalem about 27 square miles of East Jerusalem and surrounding West Bank areas. This makes Jerusalem Israel’s largest city, encompassing some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, including the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Nov. 22, 1967: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 242 setting out what comes to be known as the principle of land for peace. It calls on Israel to withdraw from all territories it occupied in the Six-Day War in exchange for the states in the region acknowledging their collective right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders. The warring parties differ in their interpretation of the resolution and it is never implemented, although it continues to guide UN efforts to reach a Middle East peace deal. Israel soon begins converting occupied patches of Palestinian land into Jewish settlements, a practice it continues to the present.

The UN Security Council votes to censure the Jewish state in March 1969. YUTAKA NAGATA/UN PHOTO

Oct. 6, 1973: Syria and Egypt invade Israel in the Yom Kippur War, hoping to win back territory lost to Israel in the Six-Day War. Israel counterattacks and recaptures the Golan Heights in Syria. A cease-fire takes effect 19 days after the war’s start. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 338 calling on all parties to stop fighting and begin peace negotiations based on Resolution 242.

June 13, 1980: The European Union adopts its Venice Declaration calling for a Palestinian state. It says the European Community “will not accept any unilateral initiative designed to change the status of Jerusalem.”

July 30, 1980: The Knesset adopts a Basic Law stating, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” The law goes unrecognized by all other governments. A series of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions declares it null and void.

Nov. 15, 1988: The Palestine National Council, in a statement read by Yasir Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization chairman, declares the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and appears to implicitly recognize Israel as a separate sovereign state by endorsing Security Council resolution 242, which recognizes the sovereignty of all Middle East nations.

April 24, 1990: The US Congress adopts a resolution declaring, “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel” and “must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.”

Sept. 13, 1993: Embracing the Oslo accords aimed at seeking a Middle East peace deal, Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Arafat formally recognizes Israel’s right “to exist in peace and security” and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agrees “to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people” and to begin peace talks. The Oslo accords reach no deal on the status of Jerusalem, and in 1992, late in the secret negotiations leading to the accords, Rabin intensifies the building of settlements in Jerusalem. The strategy is blamed for derailing a possible deal in which the Old City would be given a “special status,” leaving it divided into Jewish and Arab areas under a single municipal authority, according to Montefiore’s “Jerusalem: The Biography.”

Oct. 26, 1994: Israel and Jordan sign the Wadi Araba agreement recognizing Jordan’s “historic role” as custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.

May 29, 1995: Rabin, in a speech to the Knesset, says Israel is united in wanting Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital. “[T]here are not two Jerusalems; there is only one Jerusalem. From our perspective, Jerusalem is not a subject for compromise. Jerusalem was ours, will be ours, is ours and will remain as such forever.”

Oct. 23, 1995: The US Congress adopts the Jerusalem Embassy Act, ordering the US embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv no later than May 31, 1999. Such a move would amount to tacit US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The legislation allows the president to put off a move if he determines it would threaten US national security. Since President Harry Truman’s official recognition of the state of Israel in 1948, no American president has officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, though some backed the idea as presidential candidates. Bill Clinton becomes the first president to waive the requirement, in June 1999; all other presidents follow Clinton’s lead. Most world governments support the principle that Jerusalem’s status should be determined only through a negotiated peace agreement. While 86 countries maintain their embassies in and around Tel Aviv, not one has an embassy in Jerusalem, but a few have consulates general there.

July 2000: At the Camp David summit meeting among President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat, East Jerusalem becomes one of the key issues leading to the talks’ failure. The Palestinians want all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, under Palestinian sovereignty, and the Western Wall under Israeli authority rather than Israeli sovereignty. Israel offers Palestinians “custodianship” of holy Muslim sites but not sovereignty of the Temple Mount. And it insists the Western Wall, the holiest part of the Old City where Jews are permitted to pray, must remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Sept. 28, 2000: Israeli Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon visits the Temple Mount, infuriating Palestinians and triggering a new wave of anti-Israeli violence, known as an intifada. The violence propels Sharon’s election as prime minister and leads to a later split among the Palestinians into rival Hamas and Fatah camps.

2002: The US Congress approves a law authorizing the State Department to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to record Israel as their place of birth in their passports, but Presidents George W. Bush and, later, Barack Obama refuse to comply. The US Supreme Court strikes down the law in June 2015, ruling that the law impinges on the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

Jewish settlements in Jerusalem’s Old City. DAVID JONES/CREATIVE COMMONS

Nov. 21, 2002: A Palestinian suicide bomber blows himself up on a Jerusalem bus, killing himself and 11 others, four schoolchildren. More than 50 others, many of them children, are wounded.

April 30, 2003: The Middle East Quartet mediators — composed of the UN, European Union, Russia and the US and formed in 2002 — formally issues a “performance-based roadmap” to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, “living side by side in peace and security.” The plan calls for the parties to resolve their differences over Jerusalem, borders, refugees and settlements by the end of 2005.

June 11, 2003: A Hamas suicide bomber dressed as an Orthodox Jew blows up a bus in central Jerusalem, killing himself and 16 others and injuring 70.

Aug. 19, 2003: A Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem kills 20 Israelis and injures dozens more. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, calls the attack “totally reprehensible,” presses Palestinian leaders to arrest the instigators and urges Israel to show restraint.

February 2006: Reflecting the growing influence of Evangelical Christianity in US politics — and Middle East politics in particular — Pastor John Hagee of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Tex., founds Christians United for Israel, a group promoting US Christian support for Israel and opposition to Palestinian statehood and the Middle East peace process. Hagee boasts that the growing Christian Zionist movement counts 50 million American supporters.

Dec. 6, 2007: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Israeli plans for 300 new homes in East Jerusalem is “not helpful” in the search for peace.

June 2, 2008: Secretary-General Ban voices deep concern over Israeli plans to build more homes in East Jerusalem.

June 4, 2008: US Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a day after winning the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, tells the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC that Jerusalem :will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” Following his election to the White House, he backs away from the statement.

Oct. 28, 2009: Israel and the Palestinians must share Jerusalem as their capital for a Middle East peace to be achieved, Secretary-General Ban warns after a fresh wave of Israeli evictions and demolition of Palestinian housing in East Jerusalem.

March 9, 2010: Israel’s Interior Ministry announces plans to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. A day later, Secretary-General Ban condemns the plans. On March 19, the Quartet also condemns the Israeli decision and renews pleas for fresh peace talks.

July 29, 2010: Armed Israeli settlers seize a building in Jerusalem’s Old City housing nine Palestinian families, a day after Israeli authorities destroy a number of Palestinian commercial structures on East Jerusalem’s outskirts. The UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, deplores the moves and urges Israel to reverse them.

May 24, 2011: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing a joint session of the US Congress, states: “Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Muslims could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites, has been during Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

Aug. 15, 2011: Israel approves nearly 300 new homes in the Ariel settlement, bringing to 2,700 the number of new housing units approved in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in two weeks. The next day, the Middle East Quartet says it is “greatly concerned” by the actions, as the status of Jerusalem should first be resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Dec. 2, 2012: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refers to Jerusalem as the “eternal capital of the state of Palestine” as the General Assembly moves to name Palestine a UN “nonmember observer state,” a status previously given only to the Vatican.

Dec. 11, 2012: “Jerusalem has been and forever will be the heart and soul of the Jewish people. It is also the united and undivided capital of the state of Israel,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Of Jerusalem’s many rulers over the previous 2,000 years, none, he wrote, they “maintained the city’s freedom of religion, Jerusalem’s essence. These empires never adopted Jerusalem as their capital. The Jewish people, on the other hand — even in their darkest days, amid expulsions, pogroms, the Holocaust and waves of terror — have always comforted themselves with the saying: ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ “

Oct. 17, 2014: Palestinian President Abbas declares that Jews, which he refers to as “settlers,” have no right to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site located on the Temple Mount. “Jerusalem is the jewel in the crown and it is the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. Without it, there will not be a state,” he says.

Oct. 21, 2015: After a wave of Palestinian knife attacks on Israelis, Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a speech to the World Zionist Congress, blames the World War II-era grand mufti of Jerusalem for suggesting to Hitler that he kill the Jews. Netanyahu says Hitler in November 1941 asked the Palestinian mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, “What should I do with them [the Jews]?” and the mufti replied, “Burn them.” Historians quickly reject Netanyahu’s account.

Oct. 22, 2015: Prime Minister Netanyahu tells reporters that only Israel can be trusted to protect and ensure access to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, inflaming Muslim anger. Fearing a major outbreak of Palestinian violence, US Secretary of State John Kerry presses Netanyahu in a lengthy telephone call to temper his rhetoric.

Feb. 24, 2016: British Prime Minister David Cameron, responding to a question in Parliament, reaffirms support for Israel but adds, “we do not support illegal settlements, we do not support what is happening in East Jerusalem.” He tells the lawmakers, “I am well known as being a strong friend of Israel but I have to say the first time I visited Jerusalem and had a proper tour around that wonderful city and saw what has happened with the effective encirclement of East Jerusalem — occupied East Jerusalem — it is genuinely shocking.” Jerusalem Mayor Barkat responds that East Jerusalem’s residents are now better off “than during the time of the British Mandate.” Prime Minister Netanyahu says, “Only Israeli sovereignty guarantees the Arab residents of the city roads, clinics, employment and all the other trappings of normal life that their brethren do not enjoy elsewhere in the Middle East.”

Jan. 20, 2016: Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican nomination for US president, says he is “100 percent” in favor of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reversing a stand he took on the issue a month earlier.

July 1, 2016: The Middle East Quartet says Israel’s continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is “steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution.” In a new report, it says 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem after Israel built more than 3,000 houses for Jewish settlers from 2009 to 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Trump in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017. AVI OHAYON, ISRAEL GOVERNMENT PRESS

July 27, 2016: The US State Department, responding to Israeli plans for hundreds of additional housing units in East Jerusalem, terms the actions “part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict.”

Dec. 15, 2016: After winning the White House, Trump names David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience, as his ambassador to Israel. Friedman backs an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and opposes a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, dismissing American Jews who support the pro-peace US lobbying group J Street as “far worse than kapos — Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.”

Dec. 23, 2016: In the Obama administration’s final days, Washington takes the rare step of abstaining on a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Israel cease all settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory, enabling the resolution to pass by a vote of 14-0, which the packed Council chamber greeted with applause. The US previously vetoed such resolutions to shield Israel from Security Council criticism. Trump had publicly urged Egypt, the resolution’s main sponsor, to call off the vote and urged Obama to veto it, reflecting an unprecedented case of a president-elect meddling in foreign policy. An angry Netanyahu vows to re-evaluate Israel’s ties to the UN, as a result, saying he is eager for Trump to take over the White House. Trump tweets: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

Jan. 3, 2017: Sultan Abu al-Einein, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, says Palestinians will respond with violence if Trump moves the US embassy to Jerusalem. The same month, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan warns Trump, “Palestinians will not accept to abandon Jerusalem, they will not accept to abandon their rights.”

Jan. 22, 2017: Trump steps back from his pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing the subject,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says.

Feb. 2, 2017: The Trump White House, in yet another shift in its Middle East policy, says new Israeli settlements in occupied territories “may not be helpful” in reaching a peace deal. “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” White House Press Secretary Spicer states.

Feb. 10, 2017: As Prime Minister Netanyahu prepares to visit the new US president in Washington, Trump increases his criticism of the settlements, saying in an interview with an Israeli newspaper that they “don’t help the process.” He says, “every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we’ll see.”

Feb. 15, 2017: Trump reverses decades of US support for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump says, standing next to a smiling Netanyahu. Rex Tillerson, Trump’s new secretary of state, is not consulted on the decision or even informed of it ahead of time. A day later, Trump’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, contradicts her boss, saying, “We absolutely support a two-state solution.”


Irwin Arieff is a veteran writer and editor with extensive experience writing about international diplomacy and food, cooking and restaurants. Before leaving daily journalism in 2007, he was a Reuters correspondent for 23 years, serving in senior posts in Washington, Paris and New York as well as at the United Nations (where he covered five of the 10 years that Sergey Lavrov spent in New York as Russia’s senior UN ambassador). Arieff also wrote restaurant reviews for The Washington Post and Washington City Paper in the 1980s and 1990s with his wife, Deborah Baldwin.

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