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Trump Jerusalem explainer: How the ancient city came to be a contested capital

Disputed: Both Israel and Palestine have a claim on the city PICTURE: REUTERS

What’s the current situation?

Jerusalem is an ancient, landlocked city of major significance to Muslims, Christians and Jews.

It is located between Israel and the West Bank, with its geography, holy sites and history making it of great strategic importance.

The city is widely seen as being made up of two sections — east and west.

West Jerusalem is controlled by Israel, while East Jerusalem is ruled by Israel but is made up of Palestinian communities alongside illegal Israeli settlements.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as a capital city.

Instead, other countries consider Tel Aviv — where foreign embassies are based — to be Israel’s capital.

What’s the row about?

Put simply, both sides — Israelis and Palestinians — claim and want the city as their capital.

Israel believes the whole city is its ‘undivided’ capital, while Palestinians want the eastern sector as their capital of a future state.

But these competing desires are further complicated by Israel’s series of fortified settlements in East Jerusalem.

Its army moved into the area following the 1967 middle east war and started building Jewish-only housing.

But the UN said this was an illegal invasion and occupation — something that the Israeli government disputed.

The bitter row continues to this day.

Critics argue that to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital legitimises its illegal occupation of the eastern part of the city.

The 1993 Oslo peace accords, seen by some as a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, postponed a decision on the status of Jerusalem to later stages of talks — which never materialised.

Israel continues to defy the UN and international law by demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements in East Jerusalem.

Only last month the UN criticised Israeli planning authorities and accused them of damaging chances for peace after officials approved more than 500 new permits for house building.

How does Donald Trump’s decision affect the peace process?

One popular proposal to end the decades-old conflict is for a ‘two state solution’ of dividing up the land and having two countries, Israel and Palestine, existing alongside one another.

Under this plan, Jerusalem would also be officially split in two — but that would be impossible if either side refused to agree to share the city.

There are also fears that America’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will further harm opportunities for lasting peace by inflaming tensions and violence.