United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 passed on November 29, 1947 provided for the full territorial internationalization of Jerusalem.
“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.”
Jerusalem holds unique spiritual and religious significance for the world’s Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Following World War 1, the victorious Principal Allied Powers recognized these as “a sacred trust of civilization,” and stipulated that the existing rights and claims connected to them should be safeguarded in perpetuity under international guarantee.
The United Nations General Assembly, therefore, does not recognize Israel’s proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. U.N. general Assembly Resolution 623/30 of 2009 states that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.”
Although the General Assembly cannot pass legally binding resolutions over international issues, the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to do so, has passed a total of six Security Council resolutions on Israel on the matter, including UNSC resolution 478 which affirmed that the enactment of the 1980 Basic Jerusalem Law declaring unified Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital, was a violation of international law.
The Security Council, as well as the U.N. has consistently affirmed the position that East Jerusalem is occupied territory subject to the provision of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The International Court of Justice in its 2004 Advisory opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Territory” described East Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory.”
This bizarre situation exists, in part, because most Palestinians in “undivided Jerusalem” are legally classified (by Israel) as “permanent residents,” rather than citizens of Israel, despite the de- facto annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, deemed illegal by international law. As such, they do not enjoy the right to vote in national elections. Only an estimated 3,500 Palestinians of all ages, out of a total of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population of 320,000 (37% of Jerusalem’s total population, have received Israeli citizenship between 2002 and 2012.
On every social, economic and legal indicator there is a huge, purposeful disparity between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem: Education, health, opportunities for professional employment, resource allocation from the municipality, the right to build, welfare spending (just 4.4% of Jerusalem Municipality welfare spending is allocated and spent in East Jerusalem yet Palestinians bear a heavier tax burden.) More on these issues can be found in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides.
Thus, the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the indigenous population under illegal Israeli control, are treated as non-Jewish immigrants to Israel. And why aren’t these Palestinian residents given Israeli citizenship? To do so would weaken the Jewish majority and the carefully gerrymandered political constituency of the state, and make them harder to expel.
The only place where Jerusalem is “the undivided capital of Israel” is in the fertile imaginations of ideologues like Netanyahu and his ilk. Nowhere else is there a prime minister so utterly detached from the realities of a city that he claims to be his nation’s “exclusive” capital. And when Netanyahu says he supports the two-state solution, but opposes anything less than an undivided Jerusalem under sole Israeli sovereignty, he is really saying: “I reject the two-state solution” (which as a solution is already dead in the water because of the extensive settlement expansion in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank making a contiguous Palestinian state now impossible.
But just when the myth of “undivided Jerusalem” was collapsing under the weight of its own fiction, President Donald Trump has stepped into the fray by announcing that his administration will move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
That this move would effectively contravene the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns all measures aimed at altering the status of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is apparently of no concern to President Trump.
It seems unlikely that Donald Trump’s new pro-settlement ambassador to Israel has explained the catastrophic implications that will be seen as deliberately inflammatory by the Palestinians and by the Islamic world, this making Trump’s chances of brokering the “ultimate deal” as he’s called it, impossible to achieve. Rather than endorse a united Jerusalem, his policy will only serve to intensity gargantuan divides and make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible.
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