Response to Letter to ‘Nikki Haley’ from Issue 2

By Nicolas Grimblatt

Regarding the published “Letter to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations”, I would like to contribute with some clarifications about Jerusalem and add some questions to the debate.

My intention is not and will never be to defend, nor justify, the irresponsible actions of the United States government regarding the issue, or the ones by the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. A good way to begin this debate and to clarify my opinion regarding Jerusalem is by quoting the left party Meretz leader, Zehava Gal-On: Jerusalem is the Israeli capital and will continue to be with or without the US embassy, moving the embassy could serve Netanyahu but could bring about an unnecessary explosion.”[1]

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And she was right, Trump decided to apply the Jerusalem Act of 1995 (when most people decided to forget that it was approved by an 86% of the representatives[2] and 94% of the senators[3]at the time), bringing new and unnecessary tension into the region.

But what is it about Jerusalem? What’s the main issue? The first thing to clarify is that in this debate we’re discussing different things. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since its inception in 1948[4], when Israel controlled West Jerusalem and Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem (including the Old City). The new and current building was first used in 1966, before the Six Days War. So what does the Jerusalem Law of 1980 says? What is the problem? The problem is East Jerusalem and the Old City. Jerusalem had been one for its entire history until 1947, when Jordan invaded the West Bank and the city, opposing the General Assembly Resolution 181 on the Partition of Palestine.Thus, Jerusalem remained divided until 1967, when Israel conquered the West Bank and proceeded to reunite Jerusalem, which had been divided until then.

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Some questions that arise now include: Is Resolution 181 valid nowadays if it wasn’t complied by the international community in 1948? Is the principle of Corpus separatum valid for Jerusalem? Those questions request deep international law discussions that haven’t been resolved until now. It is difficult to analyze a GA resolution when seven countries reacted to it by sending their army to impede it. Can internationalization of the city be discussed after it was responded to with guns and tanks? Is the resolution legally or morally binding if the UN was unable to implement it?[5].

Finally, I would like to analyze the commonly mistaken concept of Zionism. The article referred to in the original article mentions “conquest of the land” as one of the pillars of Zionism without offering any source. It is not. Zionist organizations, such as the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel or the Keren Hayesod, don’t consider conquest as apart of Zionism, nor did the Basel Program adopted in 1897[6], and neither does the government or the Zionist political parties. Since establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Zionism is a national movement that considers the right of the Jewish people to self determination as a State in the ancient land of the Jewish people, with the aim of securing and developing the State of Israel, and that’s what they have worked for and continue to do.

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Back to the main issue of this article, some questions remain. Who can declare the capital of a sovereign state? Can another country unilaterally declare Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel? Has anyone the right to do that? Whether one considers East Jerusalem as part of Israel or not, Jerusalem is and will always be the capital of Israel.

 

References:

[1] http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Meretz-leader-Zehava-Gal-On-warns-against-embassy-move-517086

[2] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/104-1995/h734

[3] https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/104-1995/s496

[4] For practical and safety issues, the government worked in Tel Aviv until the end of the war in 1949 and then moved to Jerusalem, when in December 1949 the Kneset had its first meeting in Jerusalem.

[5] Ben-Gurion statement on Jerusalem in 1949 http://www.jcpa.org/art/knesset4.htm

[6] Adopted in the First World Zionist Congress which considered a practical settlement, political negotiations and education.

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