Status Quo (Jerusalem and Bethlehem)

The Status Quo (Hebrew: סטטוס קוו, Arabic: الوضع الراهن) is an understanding among religious communities with respect to nine shared religious sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.[1] Other Holy Places in Israel and Palestine were not deemed subject to the Status Quo, because the authorities of one religion or community within a religion are in recognized or effective possession of them.[2]

The immovable ladder in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, pictured in 2009, has remained in the same location at least since the 18th century as a result of the Status Quo.

The status quo stemmed from a firman (decree) of Ottoman sultan Osman III in 1757[3] that preserved the division of ownership and responsibilities of various Christian holy places. Further firmans issued in 1852 and 1853 affirmed that no changes could be made without consensus from all six Christian communities;[lower-alpha 1][4][5] these firmans received international recognition in Article 9 of the Treaty of Paris (1856).[6] The term "status quo" was first used in regards to the Holy Places in the Treaty of Berlin (1878).[6]

The 1929 summary prepared by L. G. A. Cust, The Status Quo in the Holy Places, became the standard text on the subject,[7] and the details were further formalized in the 1949 United Nations Conciliation Commission after the 1947–1949 Palestine war.