In 1896, the founder of political Zionism, the worldly journalist Theodor Herzl, published The Jewish State, electrifying Europe. He soon began meeting high officials to try to sell the idea. From The Diaries of Theodor Herzl:
May 7, 1896: Herzl's intermediary to Sultan Abdulhamid II of the Ottoman Empire tells Herzl that the Sultan "would never give up Jerusalem. The Mosque of Omar must remain forever in the hands of Islam."
"We can get around that difficulty," I said. "We shall extraterritorialize Jerusalem, so that it will belong to nobody and yet everybody; and with the the Holy Places, which will become the joint possession of all Believers–a great condominium of culture and morality."
May 19, 1896: Herzl meets the Papal Nuncio Antonio Agliardi in Vienna and offers him the same assurance.
"We require only the consent of the Great Powers, and in particular that of His Holiness the Pope; then we shall establish [a republic] ourselves–with the extraterritorialization of Jerusalem understood.."
Agliardi smiled: "He will be highly pleased. You propose, then, to exclude Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, and set up the capital, I take it, more to the north?"
"Yes," I said.
June 17, 1896: Herzl recounts a meeting with a high Turkish official in Constantinople, where the visionary has gone to offer money to Sultan Abdulhamid II in exchange for Palestine.
His objections were: the status of the Holy Places. Jerusalem must unconditionally remain under the guardianship of Turkey. It would run counter to the most sacred feelings of the people if Jerusalem were given up. I promised a far-reaching extraterritoriality. The Holy Places of the civilized world should belong to no one but must belong to all.