Jerusalem

Jerusalem

Jewish History - Jerusalem was known to the world as the Jewish capital 3000 years ago. Archeological finds and excavations continually produce new evidence of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. All of these new discoveries are providing more and more insight into Jewish life in Jerusalem through the ages.  Jews in exile worldwide prayed to be allowed to return to their Holy City, Jerusalem, for 2000 years.

Jerusalem is mentioned in the Tanakh 600 times and in the Christian New Testament 160 times – and always as the capital city of the Jewish people. These references to Jerusalem in Scripture refer to what is known today as “East Jerusalem” – “West Jerusalem” would only be built thousands of years later.

It was only from 1948-1967 that Jerusalem was a divivded city, when the Jordanian army captured the Eastern part of the city in Israel’s War of Independence. The lines that divided the city at the end of the war in 1949 were merely Armistice lines, or cease fire lines, and were never meant to serve as any kind of permanent border for the city. In fact, in the cease fire agreement signed with the Jordanians, specific language was included, at Arab insistence, that "The Armistice Demarcation Lines [...] are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto." (Art. VI.9)

United States and Jerusalem - In 1948, the United States under the leadership of Harry Truman became the first country to recognize the State of Israel.  However, only five months after the birth of the State of Israel, President Truman made a statement advocating the “internationalization of Jerusalem” within the framework of the United Nations, thereby dismissing the right of the fledgling Jewish state to declare her own capital.

On July 30th, 1980 the Israeli Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law stating, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” While legal scholars agreed that the passage of the Jerusalem Law was declarative in nature and did not have any practical significance on the circumstance of the city, the Jerusalem Law caused an international uproar.  The United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, which declared Israel’s Jerusalem Law a violation of international law, was adopted less than three weeks later with 14 votes in favor, none against.  The United States, under the Carter administration, abstained.  Resolution 478 called upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city.  The vast majority of nations with embassies in Jerusalem in 1980 complied.

Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 - In 1995 legislation passed the United States House and the Senate in favor of recognizing Jerusalem and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999.  However, before the legislation was enacted into law, Former President Clinton negotiated a waiver to be included in the legislation that would give the President the power to forestall implementing the legislation for 6 months in the interest of national security.  Every six months since 1998 the President of the United States has used this waiver to defer recognizing Jerusalem and moving the embassy. 

H.R. 1006During this Congress, legislation has once again been introduced to recognize Jerusalem and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the form of H.R.1006, the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011.  If passed, this legislation would remove the Presidential waiver clause from the 1995 Jerusalem Act and begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  H.R. 1006 would also bring about the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated in his address to Congress this May, we must remember “…that only since 1967 has freedom of worship and the protection of the holy sites of all faiths been upheld. Israel has guaranteed those fundamental rights […] and we believe that this reality should continue into the future.” The passage of H.R. 1006 would be a positive step toward ensuring future generations access to all of Jerusalem, and the continued protection of the current inhabitants’ religious freedom.

Importance of our Embassy's location - On June 3, 2011 President Obama again utilized the waiver to delay implementing the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. The continued failure of the United States to move our Embassy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital leaves a question mark over the city; our hesitancy creates a vulnerable situation.

In reaction to June 3 waiver, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA, said that “Obama’s decision affirms that the world and the US don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”  Abu Rudaineh added that the decision indicates that the world recognizes that East Jerusalem has been occupied since 1967 and that the city would be the capital of Palestine “in the context of a two-state solution.”

Our inaction is sending a clear message to the PA that Jerusalem's future is debatable. Should we follow through with the promise we made back in 1995, it would cement our nation’s support of the Jewish people’s historic connection to the city of Jerusalem and help secure it's future. 

If you have not already, we encourage you to take action today and write your Congressman on behalf of a united Jerusalem.

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