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The first neighbourhoods outside the Old City walls, built from the 1860s onward, were scattered chiefly along the main roads from the west and northwest leading into the city.These early Jewish suburbs were paralleled by non-Jewish expansion prompted by Christian religious or nationalistic motivation.However, goldfinches and linnets, formerly numerous, now rarely appear.Also often observed within the city are the lesser kestrel and the Palestinian sunbird.The only venomous snake is the Palestine viper, but this is rarely seen in urban areas.The smooth lizard and common chameleon frequent gardens and the walls of houses.Despite a rapidly changing demography, Jerusalem has retained a diverse and cosmopolitan character, particularly in the walled Old City with its Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim quarters: Arabs in traditional and modern attire; Christians, Western and Oriental, in their infinite variety of secular garb and monastic vestments; Jews in casual and Orthodox dress; and hosts of tourists combine in colourful, kaleidoscopic patterns.Synagogues, churches, mosques, and dwellings in various styles make up the city’s unique architectural mosaic.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish state occupied the Jordanian sector and shortly thereafter expanded the city boundaries—thereby annexing some areas of the West Bank previously held by the Jordanians—and extended its jurisdiction over the unified city. (For more information on the conflict between Israel and the Arabs, Jerusalem plays a central role in the spiritual and emotional perspective of the three major monotheistic religions.Long an object of veneration and conflict, the holy city of Jerusalem has been governed, both as a provincial town and a national capital, by an extended series of dynasties and states.In the early 20th century the city, along with all of historic Palestine, became the focus of the competing national aspirations of Zionists and Palestinian Arabs. The United Nations (UN) attempted to declare the city a (Latin: “separate entity”)—and, thus, avert further conflict—but the first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, left Jerusalem divided into Israeli (west Jerusalem) and Jordanian (east Jerusalem) sectors.Jerusalem stands on hills at an elevation of 2,575 feet (785 metres).The modern unified city is the largest municipality in Israel or the West Bank and is the heart of an urban agglomeration that spills outside the city limits into adjacent areas of both jurisdictions.
It is dominated by the raised platform of the Al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf (“The Noble Sanctuary”), a Muslim holy place containing the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqṣā Mosque, and other structures.