Jerusalem - Some Jurisprudential Aspects

26 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2015

See all articles by Ruth Lapidoth

Ruth Lapidoth

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 1995


The title of this paper raises a conceptual problem: does the conflict about Jerusalem indeed have legal or jurisprudential aspects? Conflicts are usually classified as either political, on the one hand, or legal, on the other. Whereas in a political conflict the parties disagree on what law to adopt, in a legal conflict the disagreement concerns the interpretation and application of existing law. Like most other aspects of the Arab-Israel conflict, the dispute about Jerusalem is primarily of a political nature. Nevertheless, several reasons compel study of the legal dimension. First, though essentially of a political nature, the dispute also has some legal aspects. Second, the interested parties tend to define and justify their claims by relying on legal arguments. Finally, once a solution emerges, it will have to be formulated in legal terms and laid down in a legally binding document. Legal considerations are relevant in three main spheres. First, the City is the subject of conflicting national claims of two peoples-Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. These claims raise the question of sovereignty over Jerusalem, and of the right of a State or another entity to determine the location of its own capital. Second, the problem of the Holy Places involves legal considerations, including the question of who should establish and who should supervise freedom of access and of worship. Moreover, some places are holy for two religions, thereby exacerbating tensions. Last but not least, the municipal administration of this very heterogeneous City requires some legal analysis. In this paper a brief examination of some relevant landmarks in the recent history of the City will be followed by a short presentation of various opinions on the City's legal status. A discussion of recent developments in the concept of sovereignty will lead to some reflections on the future of the City. I wish to emphasize that in this article I do not intend to present the attitude of the government of Israel, nor to analyze the various claims to sovereignty over the City.

Keywords: Jerusalem, legal, city, national, heterogeneous, dispute, Arabs, Israel

Suggested Citation

Lapidoth, Ruth, Jerusalem - Some Jurisprudential Aspects (1995). Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 661, 1195-1996. Available at SSRN:

Ruth Lapidoth (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905

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