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Status of Jerusalem

The status of Jerusalem is disputed in both international law and diplomatic practice.[1][2][3] Both the Israelis and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital city,[4] and their dispute over it has been described as "one of the most intractable issues in the Israel–Palestine conflict".[5] The conflicting claims include issues of sovereignty over the city, or parts of it, including access to holy sites.

The main dispute revolves around the legal status of East Jerusalem and especially the Old City of Jerusalem, while broader agreement exists regarding future Israeli presence in West Jerusalem.[1] De jure, the majority of United Nations (UN) member states and most international organisations do not recognize Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which came under its control after the 1967 Six-Day War, or its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation, which declared a "complete and united" Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[6] As a result, most countries locate their foreign embassies in Tel Aviv and its suburbs rather than in Jerusalem.

Many UN member states formally adhere to the UN proposal that Jerusalem should have an international status, as outlined in General Assembly Resolution 181 (II).[7] The European Union has also followed the UN's lead in this regard, declaring Jerusalem's status to be that of a corpus separatum, or an international city to be administered by the UN.[8][9] While the U.S. historically supported the establishment of an international regime for Jerusalem, it recognized the city as Israel's capital in December 2017 under the leadership of President Donald Trump.[10] The proposal that Jerusalem should be the future capital of both Israel and Palestine has also gained international support,[11] with endorsements coming from both the United Nations[12][13] and the European Union.[14][15]


Jerusalem municipal area

From the end of the Ottoman–Mamluk War in 1517 until the First World War, Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Since the 1860s, Jews have formed the largest religious group in the city and since around 1887, Jews have been in the majority.[16] In the 19th century, European powers vied for influence in the city, usually on the basis of extending protection over Christian churches and Holy Places. A number of these countries also established consulates in Jerusalem. In 1917 and following the First World War, Great Britain was in control of Jerusalem; from 1923 as part of the Mandate of Palestine. The principal Allied Powers recognized the unique spiritual and religious interests in Jerusalem among the world's three great monotheistic religions as "a sacred trust of civilization",[17][18] and stipulated that the existing rights and claims connected with it be safeguarded in perpetuity, under international guarantee.[19]

However, the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine were in mortal dispute and Britain sought United Nations assistance in resolving the dispute. In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (Resolution 181), which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem being established as a corpus separatum, or a "separated body" with a special legal and political status, administered by the United Nations.[20] Jewish representatives accepted the partition plan, while representatives of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states rejected it, declaring it illegal.[1]

In May 1948, the Jewish community in Palestine issued the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel became a member of the United Nations the following year and has since been recognised by most countries.[21] The countries recognizing Israel did not recognize its sovereignty over Jerusalem generally, citing the UN resolutions which called for an international status for the city.[22]

With the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel and the subsequent invasion by surrounding Arab states, the UN proposal for Jerusalem never materialised. The 1949 Armistice Agreements left Jordan in control of the eastern parts of Jerusalem, while the western sector was held by Israel.[23] Each side recognised the other's de facto control of their respective sectors.[24] The Armistice Agreement, however, was considered internationally as having no legal effect on the continued validity of the provisions of the partition resolution for the internationalisation of Jerusalem.[25] In 1950, Jordan annexed East Jerusalem as part of its larger annexation of the West Bank. Though the United Kingdom and Pakistan recognized Jordanian rule over East Jerusalem,[26] no other country recognized either Jordanian or Israeli rule over the respective areas of the city under their control.[23]

Following the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel declared that Israeli law would be applied to East Jerusalem and enlarged its eastern boundaries, approximately doubling its size. The action was deemed unlawful by other states who did not recognize it. It was condemned by the UN Security Council and General Assembly which described it as an annexation and a violation of the rights of the Palestinian population. In 1980, Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, which declared that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel".[27] The Security Council declared the law null and void in Resolution 478, which also called upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. The UN General Assembly has also passed numerous resolutions to the same effect.[28][29][30]


Israel took control of West Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, while Jordan had taken control of East Jerusalem (including the walled Old City in which most holy places are located).[23] Israel rejected corpus separatum at the Lausanne Conference of 1949 and instead preferred a division of Jerusalem into Jewish and Arab zones, and international control and protection only for holy places and sites.[31][32] Also in 1949, as the UN General Assembly began debating the implementation of its decision of 29 November 1947 regarding the establishment of Jerusalem as a separate international entity under the auspices of the United Nations, Israel declared Jerusalem Israel's "eternal capital".[33][34] Israel also argued that it conquered East Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six Day War, which it characterised as self-defence, and therefore had the stronger right to the city.[23] Israel was of the view that Jordan, which had no rights to any land west of the Jordan River, had taken the West Bank and East Jerusalem by an act of aggression and therefore never acquired sovereignty.[35][36] Following the conquest of East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, Israel administratively merged East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem.

In July 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law as part of the country's Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel.[37]

According to a 1999 statement by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "There is no basis in international law for the position supporting a status of 'corpus separatum' (separate entity) for the city of Jerusalem."[38] In the view of the ministry, the concept of corpus separatum became irrelevant after the Arab states rejected the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine and invaded the newly created state of Israel in 1948. Accordingly, the ministry states, "There has never been any agreement, treaty, or international understanding which applies the 'Corpus Separatum' concept to Jerusalem."[38]

Positions on the final status of Jerusalem have varied with different Israeli governments. The Oslo Accords declared that the final status of Jerusalem would be negotiated, but Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that he would never divide the city. In 1995, he told a group of school children that "if they told us peace is the price of giving up a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, my reply would be 'let's do without peace'". This position was upheld by his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu's successor, Ehud Barak, during negotiations, became the first Israeli Prime Minister to allow for a possible division of Jerusalem, despite his campaign promises.[39] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to keep Jerusalem the "undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people",[40] but later supported the detachment of several Arab neighborhoods from Israeli sovereignty and the introduction of an international trust to run the Temple Mount. When Netanyahu succeeded Olmert, he declared that "all of Jerusalem would always remain under Israeli sovereignty" and that only Israel would "ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places".[41] These statements seem to closely reflect Israeli public opinion. According to a 2012 poll by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 78% of Jewish voters who responded said that they would reconsider voting for any politician that wants to relinquish Israel's control over the Old City and East Jerusalem.[42]

On 17 May 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated, regarding Jerusalem serving as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, “Jerusalem has forever been the capital of only the Jewish people and no other nation.”[43] On 25 January 2018, Netanyahu said: "Under any peace agreement the capital of Israel will continue to be in Jerusalem."[44]


Until the Oslo Accords in 1993, and the Letters of Mutual Recognition, the Palestinian leadership had at all times rejected any partition of any part of the former British Mandate territory. However, while they had previously rejected the UN's internationalisation plan,[45] most of the Arab delegations at the Lausanne Conference of 1949 accepted a permanent international regime (called corpus separatum) under United Nations supervision as proposed in Resolutions 181 and 194,[46] and objected to Israel moving to (West) Jerusalem its national institutions, namely the Knesset, the presidential, legislative, judicial and administrative offices.

The Palestinian leadership now claims the "1967 borders" as the borders of the Palestinian territories, and includes East Jerusalem as part of these territories. Despite recognition of Israel, and its support in 1949 of corpus separatum, it had never conceded sovereignty of Jerusalem. In the Israel–Jordan peace treaty, Jordan conceded all claims to the West Bank, including Jerusalem, other than the Muslim holy places.

The Palestinian National Authority views East Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory, in line with UNSC Resolution 242. The PNA claims all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as the capital of the State of Palestine, and claims that West Jerusalem is also subject to final status negotiations, but is willing to consider alternative solutions, such as making Jerusalem an open city. In the Palestine Liberation Organization's Palestinian Declaration of Independence of 1988, Jerusalem is called the capital of the State of Palestine. In 2000 the Palestinian Authority passed a law designating the city as such, and in 2002 this law was ratified by Chairman Yasser Arafat.[47] The official position of the PNA is that Jerusalem should be an open city, with no physical partition and that Palestine would guarantee freedom of worship, access and the protection of sites of religious significance.[48]

United Nations

The United Nations considers East Jerusalem to be part of Israeli-occupied territories or occupied Palestinian territory.[49][50] It envisions Jerusalem eventually becoming the capital of two states, Israel and Palestine.[51]

United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 (II), passed on 29 November 1947, provided for the full territorial internationalisation 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."[52] The resolution received the consent of the Jewish leadership in Palestine, but it was rejected by the Arabs.[34] This position was restated in the wake of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War in UN General Assembly Resolution 303(IV) of 1949. According to a 1979 report prepared for and under the guidance of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, it would appear that the United Nations has maintained the principle that the legal status of Jerusalem is that of a corpus separatum.[53]

The United Nations General Assembly does not recognize Israel's proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is, for example, reflected in the wording of General Assembly Resolution 63/30 of 2009 which 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."[54]

Although the General Assembly cannot pass legally binding resolutions over international issues, the United Nations 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 resolution advised member states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city. The Security Council, as well as the UN in general, has consistently affirmed the position that East Jerusalem is occupied territory subject to the provisions 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 Palestinian Territory" described East Jerusalem as "occupied Palestinian territory".[50]

The UN has never revoked resolutions 181 and 194, and maintains the official position that Jerusalem should be placed under a special international regime.[55] Nevertheless, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on 28 October 2009 that Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and Palestine.[56]

European Union

The European Union currently views the status of Jerusalem as that of a corpus separatum including both East and West Jerusalem as outlined in United Nations Resolution 181.[50][57][58] In the interest of achieving a peaceful solution to the Arab–Israeli conflict, it believes a fair solution should be found regarding the issue of Jerusalem in the context of the two-state solution set out in the Road Map. Taking into account the political and religious concerns of all parties involved, it envisions the city serving as the shared capital of Israel and Palestine.[59][60]

The EU opposes measures which would prejudge the outcome of permanent status negotiations on Jerusalem, basing its policy on the principles set out in UN Security Council Resolution 242, notably the impossibility of acquisition of territory by force. It will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders with regard to Jerusalem, unless agreed between the parties. It has also called for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, in accordance with the Road Map, in particular Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce,[61] and has called on the Israeli government to cease all discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially concerning work permits, access to education and health services, building permits, house demolitions, taxation and expenditure."[62]

The European Union set out its position in a statement of principles last December. A two-state solution with Israel and Palestine side by side in peace and security. A viable state of Palestine in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, on the basis of the 1967 lines. A way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both Israel and Palestine.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

In December 2017 the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), consisting of 57 primarily islamic countries, recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine.[64][65][66]


On 6 April 2017, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying, "We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel."[67] Some commentators interpreted this as a Russian recognition of Israel's claim to West Jerusalem,[68][69][70] while others understood the statement as a Russian intention to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's in the context of a peace deal with the Palestinians.[71][72][73]

In 2011, Russian president Medvedev stated Russia had recognized the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital already in 1988, and had not changed that view. [74]

Russia has taken positions against Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem. In March 2010, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced Israeli plans to construct homes for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, calling the measure "unacceptable" and in opposition to "internationally acknowledged reconciliation proceedings".[75] In January 2011, reaffirming Russia's recognition of the State of Palestine, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia "supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem."[76]

United States

Greater Jerusalem, May 2006. CIA remote sensing map showing what they regard as settlements, plus refugee camps, fences, walls, etc.

It has been the position of the United States that US recognition of Israel does not imply a particular view on the status of Jerusalem. The US did not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.[77] The US voted for the UN Partition Plan in November 1947, which provided for the establishment of an international regime for the city, and Resolution 194 in 1948, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. But the US voted against Resolution 303 in 1949 which reaffirmed that Jerusalem be established a corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the UN, because the US regarded the plan as no longer feasible after both Israel and Jordan had established a political presence in the city.[78] Since then the US position has been that final status of Jerusalem be resolved through negotiations,[79] and it did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital prior to President Donald Trump's announcement on 6 December 2017.

The US opposed Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1949 and opposed Jordan's plan to make Jerusalem its second capital announced in 1950.[78] It opposed Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war,[78] and proposed that the future of Jerusalem should be the subject of a negotiated settlement.[78][80] Subsequent administrations have maintained the same policy that Jerusalem's future not be the subject of unilateral actions that could prejudice negotiations, such as by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[78]

President George H. W. Bush (1989–1993) said the US does not believe that new settlements should be built in East Jerusalem,[81] and that it does not want to see Jerusalem "divided".

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act which declared the statement of policy that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel."[82][83]

In 2008, then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama called Jerusalem the 'capital of Israel'. On 4 June 2008, Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in his first foreign policy speech after capturing the Democratic nomination the day before, that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." However, the then-senator and presidential hopeful backtracked almost immediately.[84] In 2010, the Obama administration condemned expansion of Gilo and Ramat Shlomo as well as evictions and house demolitions affecting Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.[85][86]

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2002,[87] provided: "For purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel." However, neither President George W. Bush nor Barack Obama complied with it.[88] A federal appeals court declared the 2002 law invalid on 23 July 2013.[89] On 8 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY 2003 in a 6-3 ruling, citing the law as an overreach of Congressional power into foreign policy.[90][91]

The US maintains a consulate in Jerusalem that deals primarily with the Palestinian Authority, while relations with the Government of Israel are handled from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. The U.S. consulate is not accredited to the Israeli cabinet.[92]

Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

On 6 December 2017, President Donald Trump's administration officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[93] Trump added that the State Department would initiate the process of building a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.[10] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later clarified that the President's statement "did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem" and "was very clear that the final status, including the borders, would be left to the two parties to negotiate and decide."[94] State Department officials said on 8 December that there will not be any immediate practical changes in how the U.S. deals with Jerusalem. This includes the United States policy of not listing a country on the passports of citizens born in Jerusalem. On 8 December, Assistant Secretary of State David M. Satterfield said "There has been no change in our policy with respect to consular practice or passport issuance at this time." When asked what country the Western Wall is in, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said "We're not taking any position on the overall boundaries. We are recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".[95]

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was rejected by the majority of world leaders. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on 7 December where 14 out of 15 members condemned Trump's decision. The Security Council said the decision to recognize Jerusalem was in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law, but was unable to issue a statement without the endorsement of the United States.[96] U.S. envoy Nikki Haley called the United Nations "one of the world's foremost centres of hostility towards Israel".[97] Britain, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan were among the countries who criticized Trump's decision at the emergency meeting.[98] Shortly before Trump's announcement, in November 2017, 151 nations of the United Nations General Assembly voted to reject Israeli ties to Jerusalem. Six nations voted against the resolution, and nine abstained.[99]

The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini emphasized that all governments of EU member states were united on the issue of Jerusalem, and reaffirmed their commitment to a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.[100] On 9 December, Turkey announced that that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be working with French president Emmanuel Macron in a joint effort to persuade the United States to reconsider its decision.[101]

Palestinian officials have said the announcement disqualifies the United States from peace talks, while Hamas called for a new intifada following Trump's declarations.[102][103][97] Following the announcement there have been demonstrations in Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Somalia, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia, and outside the U.S. embassy in Berlin.[101]

Four people were killed in clashes following the announcement, including two Hamas members killed in an Israeli airstrike on 9 December on a Hamas military facility in response to a rocket attack from Gaza. Two protesters were shot near Gaza's border fence on 8 December, while the Israel Defense Forces claimed it had shot towards dozens of instigators of riots, where participants were involved in burning tyres and stone-pelting.[104]

Following Trump's announcement, American embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Britain issued security alerts for Americans travelling or living abroad in those countries. The United States also issues a general warning for Americans abroad about the possibility of violent protests. The American consulate in Jerusalem has restricted travel of government employees to Jerusalem's Old City. The US Embassy in Jordan has banned employees from leaving the capital and children of embassy employees were told to stay home from school.[105]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom position on Jerusalem states that "Jerusalem was supposed to be a ‘corpus separatum’, or international city administered by the UN. But this was never set up: immediately after the UNGA resolution partitioning Palestine, Israel occupied West Jerusalem and Jordan occupied East Jerusalem (including the Old City). We recognised the de facto control of Israel and Jordan, but not sovereignty. In 1967, Israel occupied E Jerusalem, which we continue to consider is under illegal military occupation by Israel. Our Embassy to Israel is in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. In E Jerusalem we have a Consulate-General, with a Consul-General who is not accredited to any state: this is an expression of our view that no state has sovereignty over Jerusalem."[106][107]

The UK believes that the city's status has yet to be determined, and maintains that it should be settled in an overall agreement between the parties concerned, but considers that the city should not again be divided.[106] The Declaration of Principles and the Interim Agreement, signed by Israel and the PLO on 13 September 1993 and 28 September 1995 respectively, left the issue of the status of Jerusalem to be decided in the ‘permanent status’ negotiations between the two parties.[106]

In 2012, the UK Press Complaints Commission initially ruled that the newspaper The Guardian had not acted wrongly in writing that "Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is,"[108] but this was later overturned. In the latter ruling, the UK Press Complaints Commission ruled that The Guardian was wrong to refer to the Israeli capital unequivocally as Tel Aviv, saying that this "had the potential to mislead readers and raised a breach of... the Editors’ Code of Practice."[109] In addition, prior to the latter ruling, The Guardian retracted their statement, saying, "While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel's designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognised by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country's financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital".[110]

Other countries

  •  Australia: Australia does not officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.[111]
  •  Canada: According to Global Affairs Canada, "Canada considers the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian–Israeli dispute. Canada does not recognize Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem."[112] In the fact sheet on Israel displayed on the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department's website, the "Capital" field states that "While Israel designates Jerusalem as its capital, Canada believes that the final status of the city needs to be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians. At present, Canada maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv."[113]
  •  Chile: The Chilean government considers Jerusalem to be a city with special status, whose final sovereignty must be decided by both Israel and Palestine. It also considers Israel's occupation and control over East Jerusalem illegal.[114] Chile maintains its embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv, while its representative office to the State of Palestine is located in Ramallah.
  •  China: China recognizes East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. [115] In a 2016 speech to the Arab League, PRC president Xi Jinping said that “China firmly supports the Middle East peace process and supports the establishment of a State of Palestine enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.”[116] China announced that this position remains unchanged in the aftermath of the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.[117]
  •  Czech Republic: In May 2017, the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament rejected a UNESCO resolution that criticized Israel for its excavations in East Jerusalem. The Chamber declared that the Czech government "should advocate a position respecting Jerusalem as the Israeli capital city" and called on the government to withhold its annual funding of UNESCO.[118] On 6 December 2017, following the recognition statement by the United States, the Czech Foreign Ministry acknowledged that Jerusalem is "in practice the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967", but said the Czech government, in line the positions of other EU member states, considers the city to be the future capital of both Israel and Palestine. The Ministry also said it would consider moving the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem "only based on results of negotiations with key partners in the region and in the world."[119]
  •  Denmark: "Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital. Due to the conflict and unclear situation concerning the city's status foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv."[120]
  •  Finland: "Israel considers Jerusalem to be its capital city. The international community has not recognized this. The Finnish embassy is in Tel Aviv."[121][not in citation given]
  •  France: "It is up to the parties to come to a final and overall agreement with regard to the final status, which would put an end to the conflict. France believes that Jerusalem must become the capital of the two States."[122]
  •  Germany: According to Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Germany is committed to a two-state solution and believes that the final status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.[123]
  •  Guatemala: On 24 December 2017, Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales announced that the Guatemalan embassy would be relocated to Jerusalem, the first such announcement to come since Jerusalem was recognized as the capital of Israel by the United States.[124]
  •  Iran: On 27 December 2017, the Iranian parliament voted in favor of a bill recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine in response to the United States decision to recognize the city as Israel's capital.[125][126]
  •  Italy: "Endorsing the stance of the European Union in this regard, Italy does not recognise the legitimacy of any border changes that are not agreed between the parties. The question of Jerusalem is extremely sensitive, being the home to the Holy Places belonging to the three great monotheistic religions. To resolve this issue it will be necessary for the parties to reach a difficult, but possible, agreement to safeguard the special character of the city and meet the expectations of both peoples."[127]
  •  Japan: In a 1980 statement to the United Nations, Japan criticized Israel's proclamation of Jerusalem as its united capital: "Japan cannot recognize such a unilateral change to the legal status of an occupied territory, which is in total violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions". Japan later reiterated its position in a 2001 UN report: "Japan believes that issues relating to Jerusalem should be resolved through the permanent status negotiations between the parties concerned, and until such a solution is achieved both parties should refrain from taking any unilateral action relating to the situation in Jerusalem."[128]
  •  Norway: In 2010, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said "Norway considers the Israeli presence in East Jerusalem to be in violation of international law, as does the entire international community."[129]
  •  Philippines: On 6 December 2017, following the recognition statement by the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed interest in relocating the embassy of the Philippines from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem[130] and reportedly contacted the Foreign Ministry of Israel to discuss the plans.[131] However, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs later mentioned that it does not support Trump's statement to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and expressed its support for a two-state solution.[132]
  •  Republic of China (Taiwan): According to a 7 December 2017 announcement by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Taiwan considers Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, but has no plans of moving its representative office to the city in the wake of Donald Trump's formal recognition of it as Israel's capital.[133] Although Jerusalem is listed as the capital of Israel on MOFA's website, the ministry notes that its status as such "has not been widely recognized by the international community" and remains highly controversial.[134]
  •  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: "St Vincent and the Grenadines strongly urges the United States of America to acknowledge that any unilateral declaration on its part regarding the status of Jerusalem will not in any way advance the cause of a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute between the peoples of Israel and Palestine".[135]
  •  Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia expressed disappointment in the United States's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Saudi government called the action "irresponsible and unwarranted" and reaffirmed its support for a negotiated two-state solution.[136]
  •  Singapore: In a 7 December 2017 statement, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the country's support for a two-state solution where the final status of Jerusalem would be "decided through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians."[137]
  •  Sweden: "Sweden, like other states, does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which is why the embassy is in Tel Aviv."[138]
  •  Turkey: On 17 December 2017, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said "the day is close when officially" his nation will open an embassy in East Jerusalem.[139] This statement came several days after Erdoğan had called for worldwide recognition of East Jerusalem as the occupied capital of a Palestinian state at a summit of Muslim countries convened in response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.[140][141]
  •  Vanuatu: The Republic of Vanuatu recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in June 2017. Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale issued the recognition in response to a controversial UNESCO resolution passed in October 2016 that, according to the Israeli government,[142] downplays Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.[143]
  •   Vatican City: The Holy See has expressed the position that Jerusalem should become an international city, either under the United Nations or a related organization. Pope Pius XII was among the first to make such a proposal in the 1949 encyclical Redemptoris nostri cruciatus. The Vatican reiterated this position in 2012, recognizing Jerusalem's "identity and sacred character" and calling for freedom of access to the city's holy places to be protected by "an internationally guaranteed special statute". After the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Pope Francis said: "I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations."[144]

Location of foreign embassies

After Israel passed the Jerusalem Law in 1980, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 478, which called upon UN member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. Thirteen countries — Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela — moved their embassies from Jerusalem primarily to Tel Aviv. Costa Rica and El Salvador moved theirs back to Jerusalem in 1984. Costa Rica moved its embassy back to Tel Aviv in 2006 followed by El Salvador a few weeks later.[145][146] No international embassy remains in Jerusalem, although Bolivia had its embassy in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of the city, until relations were severed in 2009.[147][148]

Various countries recognized Israel as a state in the 1940s and 1950s, without recognizing Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem. There is an international sui generis consular corps in Jerusalem. It is commonly referred to as the "Consular Corps of the Corpus Separatum". The states that have maintained consulates in Jerusalem say that it was part of Mandate Palestine, and in a de jure sense, has not since become part of any other sovereignty.[25] The Netherlands maintains an office in Jerusalem serving mainly Israeli citizens. Other foreign governments base consulate general offices in Jerusalem, including Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.[citation needed] Since the President of Israel resides in Jerusalem and confirms the foreign diplomats, the ambassadors have to travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to submit letters of credentials upon being appointed.

United States Embassy

The United States maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, and a consulate general in Jerusalem as part of the "Consular Corps of the Corpus Separatum".[149][full citation needed] Under the United States Constitution the President has exclusive authority to recognize foreign sovereignty over territory.[150] The Congress has adopted a number of concurrent resolutions which support recognition of a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and urging Jerusalem as the site of the U.S. embassy. The resolutions expressed the "sense" of the House or Senate but had no binding effect. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 reads "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than 31 May 1999". The Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel concluded that the provisions of the bill "invade exclusive presidential authorities in the field of foreign affairs and are unconstitutional."[151] The fact that a U.S. embassy is located in a particular city, like Tel Aviv, does not legally mean that the U.S. recognizes that city as a capital. Experts in the field of foreign relations law have said that, faced with congressional force majeure, the State Department could simply construct another embassy in Jerusalem and continue to argue that the U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital.[152] The U.S. Consulate was given a lot in the neighborhood of Talpiot in 1989 with a 99-year lease agreement with the Israeli government and relocated there in 2002.[153]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Moshe Hirsch, Deborah Housen-Couriel, Ruth Lapidoth. Whither Jerusalem?: Proposals and Positions Concerning the future of Jerusalem, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1995. pg. 15. ISBN 90-411-0077-6.
  2. ^ Brian Whitaker. "Rivals for holy city may have to turn to God". The Guardian. 21 August 2000.
  3. ^ Deborah Sontag. "Two Dreams of Jerusalem Converge in a Blur". The New York Times. 21 May 2000.
  4. ^ Harriet Sherwood (30 January 2014). "Israel-Palestinian peace talks: the key issues". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2017. 
  5. ^ Leigh Phillips (19 November 2009). "EU rebukes Israel for Jerusalem settlement expansion". EUObserver. "The issue of Jerusalem is one of the most intractable issues in the Israel-Palestine conflict. While both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv while the occupied territories are administered by the Palestinian Authority in the town of Ramallah."
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