As the United States opened its embassy, Israeli forces killed at least 28 Palestinians along the Gaza border, health officials said, as demonstrators streamed to the frontier. Some 900 Palestinians were wounded, about 450 of them by live bullets, officials said.
Most countries say Jerusalem's status should be determined in a final peace settlement, and say moving their embassies now would prejudge any such deal. Jerusalem is a city sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and each religion has sites of great significance there. Jerusalem has been fought over for millennia by its inhabitants, and by regional powers and invaders.
It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity but all that remains is a restraining wall for the foundations built by Herod the Great. Known as the Western Wall, this is a sacred place of prayer for Jews. Within yards of the wall are two Muslim holy places, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muslims regard the site as the third holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina. Christians revere the city as the place where they believe Jesus Christ preached, died and was resurrected. In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly decided the then British-ruled Palestine should be partitioned into an Arab state and a Jewish state.
But it recognised that Jerusalem had special status and proposed an international rule for the city, along with nearby Bethlehem, as a ‘corpus separatum’ to be administered by the United Nations. That never happened.
When British rule ended in 1948, Jordanian forces occupied the Old City and Arab East Jerusalem. Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. In 1980 the Israeli Parliament passed a law declaring the “complete and united” city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. But the United Nations regards East Jerusalem as occupied.