Diplomatic forces now at work give the Vatican an opportunity to play an important new role in an Arab Israeli settlement and, simultaneously, increase Roman Catholic influence in the Holy Land. One of the long-festering issues of the Middle East is the problem of who governs Jerusalem and its religious sites. Jerusalem is a city of paramount religious and emotional significance to the world's three great monotheistic religions. Within an area of no more than 1112 square miles are the special holy places of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Wailing Wall are the chief places of religious import. Israelis consider the site of the ancient temple of Solomon to have spiritual importance. Many believe Jerusalem is their most holy city.
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