Capital Jerusalem

JerusalemWhy Israel’s capital and not Palestine’s?

My answer to a Facebook question. I only realised after that the question really wasn’t addressed to me but to intellectuals and politicians in Arab states, a status I clearly don’t hold. The information is still valid. Pity to waste the effort.The reasons for recognising Israel’s claim and not Palestine’s are mostly mirror images of each other. They are the same practical reasons that any city becomes capital of any country.

Knesset Inauguration

Inauguration ceremony of the Knesset building 30 Aug 1966 [Nine months before the Six Day War]

Jerusalem is the seat of government of the state of Israel. Its parliament is there, as is the official residence of the head of state and the prime minister. They have been there for almost 70 years. All government departments except one are situated there.

Possession is 9/10th of the law and Israel possesses 100% of Jerusalem. Even before June 1967, when Jordan had occupied part of  Jerusalem, expelling its Jewish majority, all the elements that made it seat of government and therefore capital were located in the Israeli part of Jerusalem.

The same ambassadors who make a show of not moving their embassies have no problem presenting their credentials to the President of Israel in Jerusalem. This is de facto recognition.

Anwar Sadat, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and even Jimmy Carter spoke in the Knesset (parliament) there as did dozens of other heads of states. They knew that they were in Israel’s capital even if their government’s formal position was otherwise.

Carter at Knesset 1979

Pres. Jimmy Carter addressing the Knesset in Jerusalem 12 March 1979

Palestine is not now a state by accepted legal definition nor is it recognised by America so there is no compelling case to even consider what its capital might be. Check out Article 1 and 2 of the Montevideo Convention when you have time. However even if Palestine fulfilled the qualifications of customary international law, its seat of government is in Ramallah not Jerusalem.

No act of Congress nor unfulfilled election promise obliges anyone to accept Palestine’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital.

However Trump is both fulfilling the requirements of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, an act of Congress, as he is constitutionally obliged and delivering on promises he made during his election campaign.

That’s rare for politicians, isn’t it?

George W Bush Knesset

George W. Bush addresses members of the Knesset in Jerusalem. 15 May 2008

Pres. Clinton and even Obama made the same promises as candidates but conveniently forgot them when elected.

The delay in making this declaration was frankly a six decades long insult to a close American ally and partner in many things. Palestine is very happy to accept American money but does anyone even fantasise it as a U.S. ally or expect America to receive even one cent of those $ billions back in any form?

Commonsense findings of the Jerusalem Embassy Act

  • Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may assign its own capital.
  • Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
  • The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
  • This year [1965] marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.
  • The United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic
    friend and strategic ally, the State of Israel.
  • The United States conducts official meetings and other
    business in the city of Jerusalem in de facto recognition of
    its status as the capital of Israel.
  • In 1996, the State of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th
    anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King
    David’s entry.

Israel’s legal, moral and historical claims to Jerusalem as its capital city trump (no pun intended) Palestine’s.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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