Jerusalem's King David hotel witnesses long history

Jerusalem's historic King David hotel has been in the eye of fighting and peacemaking for longer than Israel has been a state or the Palestinians have been trying to build one.

Opened in 1931, when the British ruled the Holy Land under a U.N. mandate, the elegant building overlooking the walled Old City was partially requisitioned to house the British military high command and mandatory administrators. That made it a target for Jewish militants fighting to drive the British out. In 1946 they bombed the hotel, killing 91 people.

When the British pulled out in 1948, Israel declared statehood and seized control of the western part of Jerusalem, while Jordanian troops took over the eastern side of the city. The King David, just inside the western sector, found itself overlooking the no-man's-land between the two sides and facing Jordanian sniper positions.

In the 1967 Middle East war, Israel captured east Jerusalem, pushing the Jordanian army out. Since then, the King David has provided lodging to visiting royalty, heads of state, diplomats and movie stars.

In 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat stayed there on his groundbreaking visit that paved the way for Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made the hotel his headquarters during his frequent Mideast shuttle diplomacy missions in the 1970s, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter was another prominent guest.

In 1994, U.S. President Bill Clinton stayed there on his way to preside over the signing of the Jordan-Israel peace agreement.

In recent months, the hotel has been one of the venues of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian teams preparing for periodic summit sessions by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova