A wide patch of steep hillside overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City holds row after row of graves. Biblical prophets, revered rabbis and a prime minister are buried there. Yet many of the tombstones have been smashed, litter is strewn around and tethered donkeys defecate on top of graves.

The ancient cemetery is just one point of contention in the struggle for control of Jerusalem, an explosive issue in decades of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Israelis and American Jewish leaders are demanding that the Israeli government increase protection to ensure that those buried on the Mount of Olives can rest in peace.

The cemetery is believed to hold the graves of biblical prophets Haggai, Malachi and Zechariah. The list of modern Jewish figures buried there includes Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, and Nobel Prize laureate Shai Agnon.

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