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The periods of Jewish sovereignty in the city's history are important to Israeli/Jewish nationalists (Zionists), who claim the right to the city based on Jewish descent from the Israelite Kingdom of Judah, of which Jerusalem was the capital.In contrast, Palestinian nationalists claim the right to the city based on modern Palestinians' descent from many different peoples who have lived in the region over the centuries, rather than those from a particular period.The Aramaic Apocryphon of Genesis of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1Qap Gen ) equates Jerusalem with the earlier "Salem" (שלם), said to be the kingdom of Melchizedek in Genesis .Other early Hebrew sources, Given the city's central position in both Jewish nationalism (Zionism) and Palestinian nationalism, the selectivity required to summarize some 5,000 years of inhabited history is often influenced by ideological bias or background (see Historiography and nationalism).

Today those walls define the Old City, which has been traditionally divided into four quarters—known since the early 19th century as the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters.

According to a Midrash, the name is a combination of Yhwh Yir'eh ("God will see to it", the name given by Abraham to the place where he began to sacrifice his son) and the town "Shalem".

Shalim or Shalem was the name of the god of dusk in the Canaanite religion, whose name is based on the same root S-L-M from which the Hebrew word for "peace" is derived (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew).

Whilst the international community rejected the annexation as illegal and treats East Jerusalem as Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, Jerusalem is also home to some non-governmental Israeli institutions of national importance, such as the Hebrew University and the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book.

Since the 1980s, the city has hosted no foreign embassies, although a Presidential order has been issued in the United States in early December 2017 to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

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