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Israeli law provides an overlay over preexisting Ottoman and Mandate laws. Israel also continues to grapple with legal control over key flashpoints like the Temple Mount and rehabilitating the Old City.
This chapter offers theoretical insights into reliance on different sources of law and how law is engaged by relevant actors. This includes as well matters of sovereignty, geography, and demography as influencing legal developments.
This chapter provides an overview of the relevant actors and legal sources that can create a positive framework for viable legal protection of holy places in the Old City. Some of the key issues pertaining to the implementation of international and domestic laws, along with avenues for solution, are reviewed.
The status of Jerusalem after the Mandate is subject to great debate under international law, especially after 1967. The chapter incorporates the variety of views regarding the international legal status of Jerusalem.
The constant ebb and flow of tension in Jerusalem has long been a point of despair for inhabitants of the city and for those with a stake in the potential resolution (or even management) of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.1 A particular point of contention are the Holy Places of the Abrahamic religions, broadly defined. Consider the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the reputed site of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The Church has witnessed what can only be described as interdenominational “turf wars.”2 It also has been used as a protest ground to express dissatisfaction over disputes with the Israeli government.3
This chapter accounts for treaties like the 1954 Hague Convention and the World Heritage Convention, as well as bilateral treaties (between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and the Holy See) to consider international legal protections for holy places in the Old City. Additionally, human rights norms, including freedom of religion, cultural heritage protection, and property rights also are accounted for.
The Status Quo, instituted during Ottoman times, has carried over into the present. The chapter elaborates on its origin, meaning and implication, historical developments, and external influences (including France and Russia) and where it stands under Israeli law.
Consideration of constructive ambiguity as an inroad toward creating operable protections for all relevant parties, as well as the prospect of utilizing temporary solutions as a pathway to more permanent resolutions.
Other important sacred space in the Old City merits attention, including places such as the Western Wall, Holy Basin, and surrounding cemeteries. Additional developments like the use of tunnels and national parks as inroads towards legal control is examined as well.