The political world is aghast after President Trump announced the United States now recognizes that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel.
Trump ordered the State Department to begin the planning process to within the next few years move the U.S. Embassy now located in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem where the U.S. now has just a consulate. And leaders from all over the world have lined up to offer up their criticism for President Trump’s actions in doing so. There is much irony and even some comedy in that criticism. I’ll share that in a moment. But first, let’s take a look back in history as to why and how we arrived at this point regarding Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
U.S. Israeli History re: Jerusalem as Capital
United States policy on Jerusalem refers specifically to the geographic boundaries of the “City of Jerusalem” based on the UN’s corpus separatum proposal. Jerusalem is part of the Palestine Mandate and has not been under sovereignty of any country since.
The United States voted for the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in November 1947, and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 in December 1948, following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but voted against Resolution 303 in December 1949 that reaffirmed that Jerusalem be established a corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the United Nations, Why? Because the U.S. regarded the plan as no longer feasible after both Israel and Jordan had established a political presence in the city.
The U.S. opposed Israel moving its capital from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem following Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1949, and opposed Jordan’s plan to make Jerusalem its second capital announced in 1950. The U.S. opposed Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war. The United States has proposed that the future of Jerusalem should be the subject of a negotiated settlement. Subsequent administrations have maintained the same policy that Jerusalem’s future not be the subject of unilateral actions that could prejudice negotiations such as moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which declared, as a statement of policy, that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
In 2002, passed as part of the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003” Congress said, “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,” although Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not allow it. A federal appeals court declared the 2002 law invalid on July 23, 2013. On June 8, 2015, The Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling struck down Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY 2003, citing the law as an overreach of Congressional power into foreign policy.
President George H. W. Bush (1989–1993) stated that the United States does not believe new settlements should be built in East Jerusalem and that it does not want to see Jerusalem “divided.” The Obama administration condemned expansion of Gilo and Ramat Shlomo as well as evictions and house demolitions affecting Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.
The United States has maintained a consulate in Jerusalem that deals primarily with the Palestinian Authority, while relations with the Israeli government are handled from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. The U.S. consulate is not accredited to the Israeli government. The U.S. has six buildings in Jerusalem with a staff of 471.
The Jerusalem Uproar
Let’s face it: Biblically, Jerusalem has since the founding of the Jewish people as a nation been their Capital. That changed several times through history because of wars and invasions and re-settlements. But that’s been pretty much the case for every country in Europe and the Middle East. I have in my lifetime struggled to understand who gave anyone on Earth the authority to question Israel as a sovereign nation having the right to determine which city would be their nation’s Capital. Yet that has always been a political and religious issue.
The principle objection is centered around claims the Palestinian people make regarding Palestinian rights to land contained in the nation of Israel. Again, similar claims that have resulted in some of the most brutal wars in world history have resulted from nation boundary claims. With the 1967 war, it was pretty much settled that Israel’s current borders are the permanent ones. Most thought that settled it. But they were wrong. Palestinians spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives in continued efforts to drive the Jewish people out of Israel and take that land as theirs.
That fight has pretty much devolved into one of Muslim against Jew. And it has been boiling for centuries.
Today’s Ironies and Comedies
It has been hilarious to listen to American politicians and even some European politicians weigh-in on President Trump’s actions — American politicos most of all. Folks like Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Joe Manchin have each made public statements calling the President’s actions “unnecessary, unadvisable, untimely, ridiculous, and stupid.” Those statements are both ironic and funny at the same time. Why? Most of these that were in office in 1995 voted FOR the Jerusalem Embassy Act which stated the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel!
Who was President when that act was passed? Bill Clinton, who in his campaign for both his first and second terms as President promised Americans he would support moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He never did. Bush 43 promised in campaigns for his two terms to do so as well. Barack Obama did the same. NONE DID!
Part of the uproar today came from Bush 43 who — in spite of his “campaign” promises on the move — never had the guts to follow through. He said that President Trump was wrong in initiating the action because it will “severely damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”
“Israeli-Palestinian peace process?” There IS no peace process. Supposedly the two entities are working on a plan that would give each a geographical foothold within current Israeli geography that each could call their own, and Palestine would be a nation. That would include a split Jerusalem. They have been arguing and fighting about that same thing for years!
Historically the first thing that always happens when two entities that are at war with each other decide to strike a peace deal is that there is a cease-fire. Although cease-fires have been negotiated and implemented numerous times by and between the two, none has ever lasted. They always terminate with the lobbing of missiles at the other or car bombings and/or explosions of buildings.
In my opinion, the disagreement will never be resolved between the Israelis and Palestinians. Why? Even though Jewish people have made it clear again and again they will agree to recognize Palestine, they will continue to allow free religious practices throughout their nation for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and even allow a split Jerusalem for each to take half as their Capital, the Palestinians never seem to agree to such terms. The reason? The fundamental building block of their founding documents is that any peaceful resolution that may come in the future requires the total annihilation of the nation of Israel and all Jewish people.
One final note: if it was not so ridiculous it would be funny that anyone in the U.S. feels our nation has the say-so about where Israel locates its Capital — or for any other country in the World! “Sovereign” means that a country that IS sovereign has the unfettered right to do so along with creating and operating its own political, economical, and social infrastructure as it sees fit.
Why should Israel be any different?