Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Saw Hamas' Cruel and Selfish Game in Gaza

I Saw Hamas' Cruel and Selfish Game in Gaza

Polish reporter Wojciech Cegielski spent a month in Gaza during last summer's war. He has no doubt Hamas used people as human shields.

By Wojciech Cegielski 

I spent a month in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. It was one of the worst and deadliest months I have seen in my life. The reality there was much more complicated than was seen from a safe distance in Europe or the United States.

Yes, Israel bombed Palestinian houses in Gaza. But Hamas is also to blame for its cruel and selfish game against its own people. I do not have hard evidence, but for me, spending a month in the middle of this hell, it was obvious that they were breaking international rules of war and worst of all, were not afraid to use their own citizens as living shields.

Smoke rises over Gaza after Israel Air Force strikes during Operation Defensive Edge.AP
The first incident happened late in the evening. I was in the bathroom when I’ve heard a loud rocket noise and my Spanish colleague, a journalist who was renting a flat with me near the Gaza beach, started to scream. He wanted to light a cigarette and came to one of the open windows. The moment he was using his lighter, he saw a fireball in front of his eyes and lost his hearing.

From what our neighbors told us later, a man drove up in a pickup to our tiny street. He placed a rocket launcher outside and fired. But the rocket failed to go upwards and flew along the street at ground level for a long time before destroying a building. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt or killed.

Masked Hamas gunmen hold weapons during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the group in Gaza City, 2014.AP

When we calmed down, we started to analyze the situation. It became obvious that the man or his supervisor wanted the Israel Defense Forces to destroy civilian houses, which our tiny street was full of. Whoever it was, Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam or others, they knew that the IDF can strike back at the same place from which the rocket was fired. Fortunately for us, the rocket missed its target in Israel.

The second story happened in the middle of the day. I was sitting with other journalists in a cafe outside one of the hotels near the beach. During wartime, these hotels are occupied by foreign press and some NGOs. Every hotel is full and in its cafes many journalists spend their time discussing, writing, editing stories or just recharging the phones. Suddenly I saw a man firing a rocket from between the hotels. It was obvious that we journalists became a target. If the IDF would strike back, we all would be dead. What would Hamas do? It would not be surprising to hear about the “cruel Zionist regime killing innocent and free press.”

A foreign journalist, left, embraces her Palestinian news assistant, who burst into tears after discovering his family home was destroyed by Israeli strikes in Gaza. AP

For me, provoking is also creating living shields.

While I was interviewing people on the streets of Gaza, I couldn’t meet anyone who spoke something other than official propaganda. But some Palestinians, when they were sure my microphone was turned off, told me they have had enough but they are afraid. No one would dare to say publicly that Hamas is creating a hell inside Gaza. But they were also asking “what if not Hamas?” The Palestinian Authority government would have no authority there. So if not Hamas, they say, there could be somebody much worse. “The choice is between evil and evil plus,” one of them said.

The reality is much more complicated than can be seen from a distance.

The writer is a foreign news correspondent for Polish Radio.


What Are Palestinians Doing With U.S. Money?....Like who would expect this???

What Are Palestinians Doing With U.S. Money?

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah did not tell the visiting U.S. Congressmen that the $4.5 billion the Americans invested in promoting Palestinian democracy went down the drain or ended up in secret Swiss bank accounts. Nor did he tell the Congressman that the Palestinians do not have a functioning parliament or a free media under the PA in the West Bank or under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And, of course, Hamdallah never told the Congressman that for Palestinians, presidential and parliamentary elections remain a remote dream.

The refusal of the international community back then to hold Arafat accountable was the main reason a majority of Palestinians were driven into the open arms of Hamas. Palestinians saw no improvement in their living conditions, mainly as a result of the PA's corruption. That is why they turned to Hamas, which promised them change, reform and an end to financial corruption.

The Americans and Europeans are therefore responsible for Hamas's rise to power.

One does not have to be an expert on Palestinian affairs to see that the billions of dollars have neither created democracy for the Palestinians nor boosted the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The "investment" in Palestinian democracy and peace with Israel has been a complete failure because of the refusal of the U.S. Administration to hold the Palestinian Authority fully accountable.

Unless Western donors demand that the PA use their money to bring democracy to its people and prepare them for peace, the prospects of reviving any peace process will remain zero.

During the past 20 years, the U.S. has invested $4.5 billion in promoting democracy among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and boosting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

This is what Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah revealed during a meeting in Ramallah this week with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hamdallah said that the money was also invested in projects in various Palestinian sectors.

The $4.5 billion that Hamdallah talked about does not include the billions of dollars poured on the Palestinian Authority (PA) since its creation in 1994. Palestinian economic analysts estimate that the PA has received a total of $25 billion in financial aid from the U.S. and other countries during the past two decades.

One does not have to be an expert on Palestinian affairs to see that the billions of dollars have neither created democracy for the Palestinians nor boosted the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Twenty years later, the Palestinians still have a long way to go before they ever see real democracy in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

To begin with, the Palestinian Authority, which was born out of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, was never a democratic regime. On the contrary; what the Palestinians got from the start was a mini-dictatorship run by Yasser Arafat and his PLO and Fatah cronies. It was a corrupt regime, was directly funded and armed by the U.S., Europe and several other countries.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, reviews the PA honor guard in Ramallah, March 21, 2013. (Image source: AFP video screenshot)
Those who were funding Arafat's autocratic regime back then never cared about either democracy or transparency. They were pouring billions of dollars on the PA without holding its leaders accountable.

The result was that the Palestinians got a regime that not only deprived them of most of the international aid, but that also cracked down on political opponents and freedom of speech. The Palestinian Authority was actually a one-man show called Yasser Arafat; he and his cronies were the main benefactors of American and European taxpayers' money.

At the time, the assumption in the U.S., Europe and other countries was that a corrupt and repressive Arafat would one day make far-reaching concessions for the sake of peace with Israel.

Because he was on the payroll of the Americans and Europeans, the thinking went, Arafat would never be able to say no to any offer -- such as the generous proposal he received from then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the botched Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. But when Arafat was finally put to test at Camp David, which was sponsored by President Bill Clinton, he walked out of the summit, accusing the U.S. of trying to force him to make concessions that no Palestinian would ever accept.

The billions of dollars that Arafat received between 1994 and 2000 from the Americans and the international community failed to convince him to accept the most generous offer ever made to the Palestinians by an Israeli prime minister. Even worse, the first seven years of the peace process resulted in the second intifada, which erupted in September 2000 -- a few months after the collapse of the Camp David summit.

The refusal of the international community back then to hold Arafat accountable was the main reason a majority of Palestinians were driven into the open arms of Hamas. Palestinians lost faith not only in the peace process, but also in the Palestinian Authority and its leaders. Palestinians saw no improvement in their living conditions, mainly as a result of the PA's corruption.

That is why they turned to Hamas, which promised them change, reform and an end to financial corruption. The Americans and Europeans are therefore responsible for Hamas's rise to power.

Until 2007, the Palestinians had only one corrupt and undemocratic regime, called the Palestinian Authority. Since then, the Palestinians have earned another regime that is even more ruthless and repressive: Hamas.

So if $4.5 billion brought the Palestinians two corrupt and undemocratic regimes, what would have happened had the U.S. and Europe invested a few more billion dollars in promoting Palestinian democracy? The Palestinians would most likely have seen the emergence of a few more dictatorships in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority prime minister did not tell the visiting U.S. Congressmen that the $4.5 billion the Americans invested in promoting Palestinian democracy went down the drain or ended up in secret Swiss bank accounts. Nor did he tell the Congressman that the Palestinians do not have a functioning parliament or a free media under the PA in the West Bank or under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. And, of course, Hamdallah never told the Congressman that for Palestinians, presidential and parliamentary elections remain a remote dream.

But, like most Westerners who visit Ramallah, Congressman McCarthy obviously did not ask harsh questions, especially regarding the Palestinians' responsibilities toward democracy and the peace process. The Congressman was undoubtedly glad to hear that the U.S. has invested $4.5 billion in Palestinian democracy and boosting the peace process. But did he and others ever ask whether and how the Palestinian Authority used those funds to advance these two goals?

One does not need to ask Palestinian Authority officials about the way they spent the American aid money because the reality on the ground is too obvious. The PA took the billions of dollars and continues to operate as a corrupt and undemocratic regime. Democracy is the last thing the Palestinians expect to see from the PA or Hamas.

And what has the Palestinian Authority done with the billions of dollars to advance the cause of peace with Israel? Has the PA leadership used this money to promote peace and coexistence with Israel? The answer, of course, is no. Instead of using American financial aid to further this cause, the PA has done -- and continues to do -- the exact opposite. In addition to inciting its people against Israel on a daily basis, the Palestinian Authority leadership has been using these funds to wage a massive campaign in the international community with the purpose of isolating and delegitimizing Israel and turning it into a pariah state.

The "investment" in Palestinian democracy and peace with Israel has been a complete failure because of the refusal of the U.S. Administration to hold the Palestinian Authority fully accountable.

Unless Western donors bang on the table and demand that the Palestinian Authority use their money to bring democracy to its people and prepare them for peace, the prospects of reviving any peace process in the Middle East will remain zero.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015



Israel has a right to claim ancient lands 

by Matthew Hausman

The following is the text of a keynote address delivered at Israel Truth Week in Hamilton, Ontario, on March 6, 2013.  Israel Truth Week, now in its second year, was conceived and coordinated as a response to Israel Apartheid Week, an annual hatefest that has swept across North American college campuses over the last decade.  This year’s Israel Truth Week included more than 20 speakers from Canada, the United States and Israel, and the program seems poised to spread internationally.  A discussion of ITW can be found in an article entitled, “The Shame of Israel Apartheid Week,” which appeared originally in Israpundit, http://www.israpundit.com/archives/53428 and was republished in Arutz Sheva at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/13007#.Uf6DRk7D9es.

In discussing the legal foundations for the modern state of Israel, we’re often hampered by two nagging obstacles.  The first is classic anti-Semitism – haters will never accept the Jews’ right to live in the land of their ancestors regardless of the historical veracity of their claims.  The second is ignorance.  Many people simply don’t know Jewish history, or for that matter the history of Islam, the Arab conquests or the Mideast in general.

For some people the history of Israel only began in 1948, after the Arab-Muslim world had rejected the UN partition vote and attacked the Jewish State in the first of several wars of attempted extermination.

For others it began with Theodor Herzl’s publication of “Der Judenstaat” in 1895.

And for still others it began thousands of years ago with the covenant between G-d and Abraham.

However, we must understand the history leading up to Israel’s independence in its organic context.  Regarding the Jewish scriptural view, we need to recognize that not everyone believes in Tanach and that many who claim to may not actually read the same Bible or have the same understanding of Jewish tradition.

This is not to discount the significance of the Torah’s account; but Jews lived in the Land of Israel for thousands of years regardless of how their national identity was formed.  Before the British, before the Ottomans, before the Arabs and before the Romans, the land belonged to and was inhabited by the Jews.  Indeed, the word “Jew” comes from the name Judea, the only sovereign nation to exist on that land between the time of the Roman conquest and Israel’s independence.

Whereas Israel’s detractors often belittle Jewish nationality by saying that Judaism is “just a religion,” the Jews are in fact an ancient people connected by religion, blood, shared history, and common language preserved in prayer and daily speech.  Jewish religion encompasses a belief system that is imposed largely by descent.  One does not become Jewish by the willy-nilly observance of certain rituals.  Rather, one is obligated to observe precisely because he or she is Jewish.

There is no conflict within Judaism between religious and national identity, each of which is essential and reinforces the other.  Indeed, the Covenant is viewed as both a religious and national inheritance that has validated the Jews’ presence in their homeland since time immemorial.  Although the Romans dispersed much of the population after quashing the Bar Kochba Rebellion in the year 136 CE, a tenacious remnant remained in their homeland, where their descendants continued to live until the establishment of the modern state.  The Jews are the only people with a continuous connection to the land from ancient to modern times.

Though many people today believe that creating an independent Palestinian state where none ever existed will resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two-state paradigm is based on three fictional assumptions, namely: (a) that an ancient Palestinian people occupied the land for generations until its displacement by Israel; (b) that the conflict is driven by this displacement; and (c) that Israel usurped ancestral Arab soil.

These false premises are used to obscure the true nature of the conflict, which is not really a dispute over real estate, but rather a war of total annihilation being waged against the Jewish state by the entire Arab-Muslim world.  Establishing a Palestinian state will not facilitate peace because the goal of this war is not peaceful coexistence but the extermination of Israel and her people.  The creation of Palestine is intended only as the first step for achieving this goal.

Lost in all the propaganda is any acknowledgment of the Jews’ historical, legal and demographic claims to their homeland, which traditionally included all of Judea and Samaria.  These lands were integral parts of the ancient Jewish commonwealth.  Palestinian claims do not have the same historical antecedents – or any for that matter – but are a modern political contrivance.

The western media denigrates any discussion of the possible annexation of Judea and Samaria, but the concept is neither new nor radical.  Indeed, the San Remo Conference of 1920 and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922 contemplated Jewish settlement throughout the entire homeland, long before the term “Palestinian” entered common usage in the late 1960s as a semantic weapon in the propaganda war against Israel.  In addition to Judea and Samaria, this homeland included territory on both sides of the Jordan River, including all of what is now Jordan.

Although the Diaspora began with the Romans, the Jews always maintained a National Presence

In order to debunk those who disparage Jewish national rights, it’s useful to start with the most common myth used to delegitimize Israel.  Specifically, the claim that Israeli “settlements” are illegal is based on the big lie that Jews are strangers to Judea, Samaria, and the entire Mideast.  And it’s simply not true.

Arguing that the settlements are illegal requires one to ignore the provenance of the area that came to be designated the “West Bank.”  This territory was never part of a sovereign nation called “Palestine” because no such country ever existed.  Rather, it was part of the Ottoman Empire for 600 years or so, before which it was non-sovereign territory that had passed from one conquering empire to the next starting with Rome.

These lands, and indeed the entire area that would be reborn as modern Israel, passed directly from the Kingdom of Judea to Rome after the Bar Kochba Rebellion.  Upon the disintegration of the unified Roman Empire, the land came under Byzantine rule, which was followed by Arab-Muslim conquest and then Ottoman control until the Turks were defeated in World War I.  The former Ottoman provinces were then divided into mandatory protectorates, with the British assigned the territory that would later become Israel and Jordan.

After Transjordan was created in 1921 on most of the territory under British control, the remainder was designated for unrestricted Jewish habitation west of the Jordan River.  This objective was recognized long before the dialogue was hijacked by the canard that Judea and Samaria were historically Arab lands.

Only the Jews have Ancestral Claims to Judea and Samaria

Israel has historical claims to Judea and Samaria because they were part of the Second Jewish Commonwealth.  Jews lived there from ancient times through successive conquests until 1948, when the area became Judenrein after combined Arab-Muslim forces invaded from east of the Jordan River.

Transjordan (now Jordan) occupied Judea and Samaria and dubbed them the “West Bank,” just as the Romans had renamed the Kingdom of Judea “Philistia” (Palestine) after the long-gone Philistines in an effort to obscure the Jews’ connection to their homeland.  Jordan’s annexation was illegal under international law and was recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan.

In contrast, Israel’s acquisition of Judea and Samaria during the Six-Day War was perfectly lawful, despite Arab claims to the contrary.  In fact, it is Palestinian land claims that are dubious, based as they are on Jordan’s transfer of negotiating “rights” over these territories to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo process.  Because Jordan seized these lands in violation of international law, it never possessed lawful title and thus had no legal rights to convey.

During its nearly 20-year occupation of Judea and Samaria, Jordan attempted to erase all memory of the Jewish connection to the land.  Nevertheless, the Jewish character of the land is evidenced by the plethora of holy sites it contains, including, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron, and Ramat Rachel near Bethlehem.

The pedigree of the land is also reflected by the abundance of Hebrew place names that evidence Jewish habitation from Biblical times.  These towns include, among many others: Batir, which corresponds to Beitar, the seat of Bar Kochba’s rebellion against Rome; Beit-Hur, a derivation of Beit Horon, where the Maccabees defeated the Assyrian Greeks; Beitin, an Arabic corruption of the name Beit El, where the Prophet Shmuel held court and the Ark of the Covenant was kept before the Temple was built in Jerusalem; and Tequa, the site of ancient Tekoa, where the Prophet Amos was born and received his prophesy.

There is no doubt that Judea and Samaria had a long history of Jewish habitation.  Nevertheless, the Arab-Muslim world – aided and abetted by the political left – continues to promote the lie that the Jews were strangers to these lands before 1967 and that all “settlements” are colonial enterprises.   This simply is not true.

Israel has Superior Legal Claims to Judea and Samaria

In addition to the Jews’ long history in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s land rights are consistent with established legal precedents that were incorporated into the San Remo Convention shortly after the First World War.

Regarding the lands liberated from Ottoman rule, the San Remo Resolution resolved:

The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust, by application of the provisions of Article 22, the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory, to be selected by the said Powers. The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

(San Remo Convention Resolution, Paragraph (b).)

Underlying San Remo’s affirmation of the Balfour Declaration was the recognition that the Jews are (a) an indigenous people who are (b) defined by descent as well as religion and who are (c) possessed of the inalienable right to national ascendancy in their homeland.  The San Remo program was ratified by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922, the preamble of which included the following passages:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country…

Consistent with this language, Article 2 of the Mandate clearly set forth the British obligation to effectuate these goals in accordance with the San Remo Resolution.  (League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, Article 2.)

Regarding the intended geographical scope of Jewish habitation and settlement, the Mandate specifically provided that:

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

(League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, Article 6.)

The Mandate did not call for a Jewish state with indefensible borders.  Rather, it recognized the Jews’ right to live anywhere within their homeland in safety and security.

Pursuant to Article 6 of the Mandate, “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use” was to be encouraged.  Article 80 of the U.N. Charter preserved the Jews’ right to close settlement by specifying that: “nothing in the [United Nations] Charter shall be construed … to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or peoples or the terms of existing international instruments.”

The Mandate contemplated a Jewish state that would incorporate some or all of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.  Indeed, it recognized the Jews’ connection to a homeland that historically included these territories.

This recognition of Jewish national rights was ratified by the United States on June 30, 1922, when both Houses of Congress issued a joint resolution unanimously endorsing the Mandate’s goal of reestablishing the Jewish national home.  The Congressional resolution stated in relevant part:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.

(Joint Congressional Resolution No. 360, the Lodge-Fish Resolution.)   Israel always honored these obligations and protected the rights of minorities.  In contrast, Jordan persecuted non-Muslims and desecrated their holy sites during its illegal occupation.

It’s worth noting that Jewish rights under the Palestine Mandate were not recognized in a vacuum, and that Arab self-determination was addressed by the establishment of the French Mandate in Lebanon and Syria and the British Mandate in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Transjordan. There was no separate mandate for the “Palestinians” because they had no independent national existence.  In contrast, San Remo and the Mandate evidenced an international recognition of the Jews’ historical rights in their homeland.

Despite the Jews’ willingness to accept a state comprising less than their traditional homeland, the Arab world refused to accept any expression of Jewish sovereignty and scorned all proposals providing for Jewish independence.

The UN Partition Plan of 1947 was rejected by the Arab-Muslim world because it provided for Jewish autonomy.  Palestinian claims were not considered at the time because Palestinian nationality had not yet been invented.  In fact, the Arabs rejected the term “Palestine” because, as stated by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi to the Peel Commission in 1937: “There is no such country [as Palestine]. ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” This was the prevailing Arab view at the time.

Israel’s Liberation of Judea and Samaria was Consistent with the Laws of War

In light of the resounding Arab-Muslim rejection of the 1947 partition plan, it cannot be cited as legal precedent to validate Palestinian claims to Judea and Samaria – or for that matter to Jerusalem or Gaza.  Likewise, Israeli sovereignty cannot be impugned because she came into modern possession of these lands during wartime.  Pursuant to the laws of war, the seizure of land from belligerent nations during wartime gives rise to lawful claims of ownership.

The laws of war cannot be ignored when weighing the legality of Israeli control of Judea and Samaria.  International law has long recognized the right of a country to seize territory while defending itself from the unprovoked aggression of belligerent nations, and that the country defending itself can legitimately retain lands captured from its aggressors.

There is no dispute that the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 were started by the Arab nations with the goal of destroying Israel and her people.  There is likewise no dispute that in attacking Israel, these nations violated Article 2, Section 4 of the U.N. Charter, which provides:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Consequently, Israel was acting within her legal rights when she captured Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, Golan, Sinai, and Gaza during the Six-Day War.

It is equally relevant that Judea and Samaria were never lawfully part of any sovereign Arab or Muslim nation at any time after the Roman conquest, but rather constituted unincorporated territories that were illegally occupied by Jordan in 1948.

Why is this history so important?  Because when Israel wrested control of these lands from Jordan, she in fact liberated them from foreign occupation; and in doing so she was enforcing national rights that had been recognized by San Remo and the Mandate.

Security Council Resolution 242 does not Require Israel to Surrender Judea and Samaria
Although U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is often invoked to demand that Israel withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, it actually says nothing of the kind.

Resolution 242 recognizes that Israel was attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967, and calls on the parties to that conflict to negotiate a “just and lasting peace” based on “secure and recognized borders.”  This language implicitly recognizes that Israel’s capture of Judea and Samaria, and also Golan, Gaza and Sinai, was legal under international law.  If it were not, Resolution 242 would simply have demanded that Israel return all lands captured from her attackers. There would be nothing to negotiate and no need to deviate from the 1949 armistice boundaries known as the “Green Line.”  Significantly, however, Resolution 242 does not characterize the Green Line as permanent.

Nowhere does Resolution 242 require Israel to withdraw from “all” of “the” territories captured from Jordan, Egypt and Syria.  Moreover, the importance of the grammar and syntax used by the drafters cannot be overstated.

As explained by the late Eugene Rostow, the U.S. Undersecretary of State who participated in drafting Resolution 242, the exclusion of the adjective “all” and the definite article “the” was intentional and indicative of the essential meaning.

Resolution 242 … calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
. . .

Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from ‘all’ the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ Armistice Demarcation Lines [‘Green Line’], but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called ‘secure and recognized’ boundaries …

(“The Future of Palestine,” Rostow, Eugene V., Institute for National Strategic Studies, November 1993.)

Furthermore, the black letter of Resolution 242 applies to incorporated states.  It does not mention the Palestinians because they did not constitute a sovereign state involved in the conflict.

Whereas Resolution 242 does mention “refugees,” the term as used refers equally to Jews and Arabs who lost their homes during the war in 1948.  It does not apply to a displaced Palestinian people whose national existence is more political than historical.

In light of the foregoing, Israel’s acquisition of Judea and Samaria was lawful and appropriate.  Despite the UN’s attempts to delegitimize Israeli actions by promulgating ridiculous resolutions ex post facto, her claim to Judea and Samaria is supported by established legal principles.

So what about the Refugees?

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (“UNRWA”) defines the term “refugee” in a historically disingenuous manner.  Unlike relief organizations that seek to ameliorate the condition of wartime refugees through resettlement, UNRWA’s sole purpose is to maintain the statelessness of Arabs who became refugees in 1948 and their descendants, regardless of whether they now live in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon or Syria and whether they or their forebears came from Egypt, Syria, Algeria or elsewhere.

According to UNRWA, “Palestinian” refugees are those Arabs who: (a) established residency within Mandate territory between June 1946 and May 1948; (b) lost their homes and livelihoods during the 1948 War; and (c) reside in areas where UNRWA services are available.  Unlike any other prior refugee group, their status is passed on to their descendants.

No similar agency was created to serve the needs of the nearly 800,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab-Muslim lands in 1948 and dispossessed of their assets without compensation.  Most of these Jews were taken in by Israel with no assistance from the UN, and they ceased to be refugees.

UNRWA’s novel definition begs the question of how refugee status could be based on a mere two-year minimum residency requirement if the Palestinians are truly descended from people who inhabited the land for hundreds of generations.  These people were not required to be native born or even descended from indigenous forebears to be considered refugees; and in fact most were immigrants themselves or the progeny of immigrants.

Moreover, they were not expelled from an existing country that exhibited any trappings of sovereignty or national character.  Indeed, no country existed between the Jordan and the Mediterranean from the time of the Roman conquest until Israel’s independence.  In contrast, there was continuous Jewish habituation in Judea and Samaria since antiquity, as well as in Gaza and Jerusalem, where Jews constituted the majority for generations.

Where does the Levy Report Fit in?

The Levy Report was intended to address the legality of so-called “outposts” in the territories; and though it was critical of government action in establishing some of these outposts, it nonetheless found them to be legal under international law.

As discussed by Kenneth Levin in a Jerusalem Post op-ed:

The Levy Report’s findings should hardly have been surprising. The right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria is founded on grounds much firmer than simply arguments that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to settlements because these communities do not entail forced transfer of populations. Such arguments, while entirely sound, merely offer a generic basis for maintaining that settlements are not contrary to international law.

(“The Levy Report: A Vital Beginning,” Kenneth Levin, Jerusalem Post, 11/01/12, at http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=290160.)

Most significantly, the Levy Report concluded that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria do not constitute “occupation.” It also found that these communities do not violate the Fourth Geneva Convention because they did not involve forced population transfers or territory that had been seized from a lawful, sovereign owner.

The report also took note of the legal precedent set forth in San Remo and the League of Nations Mandate.  In their day, San Remo and the Mandate echoed prevailing international recognition of the Jews’ connection to their homeland. Because the provisions of San Remo and the Mandate were preserved in Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, this consensus became UN policy.

Demography Favors Annexation or the Assertion of Israeli Sovereignty

Though the Oslo Process is moribund, it established three administrative divisions (Areas A, B and C) that may actually be useful in making Israel’s case for sovereignty. In particular, Area C comprises approximately 60% of Judea and Samaria and has a Jewish population exceeding 350,000, compared to an Arab population calculated only in the tens of thousands. It is under Israeli control and buttresses the greater Jerusalem neighborhoods that contain 250,000 or more Jewish residents.

Despite propaganda warnings of a Palestinian demographic time bomb, Jews comprise the majority in the territories under Israeli control and are not likely to be dispossessed. There is no doubt that these territories were historically Jewish or that the Arab-Muslim population accrued largely through immigration during the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries.

Today Jews outnumber Arabs two-to-one when Israel and the territories she controls are combined; and because birthrates are increasing among Jews and declining among Arabs, the Jewish majority will only increase in the future.  The Jewish population in Israel proper is also growing, and Jews constitute the majority in Jerusalem – as they have for generations.  The supposed demographic threat to Jewish hegemony is propaganda, particularly as it relies on doubtful census statistics that overstate the Arab population by as much as half.

Based on demographics and legal precedent, a growing number of Israelis favor some form of annexation or extension of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.  Indeed, incorporating lands that were part of ancient Israel would coincide with the vision articulated by San Remo and the Mandate.

Perhaps most important – and as duly noted in the Levy Report – Jewish habitation in Judea and Samaria does not constitute “occupation” under any definition.  Rather, it is consistent with the law recognized by San Remo and the Mandate and adopted by the United Nations through Article 80 of the UN Charter.

Can Israel Act Unilaterally?

Whether Israel continues with a farcical peace process or decides to act unilaterally, she will likely suffer international repercussions if she offers anything less than a Palestinian state based on the 1949 Armistice Line and a divided Jerusalem.  Such a state, however, would compromise her sovereignty and security.  If Israel is to assure her national integrity, she must be prepared to put her interests first and formulate strategies for dealing with the international fallout.  For example, she should work towards energy self-sufficiency and expand her economic and strategic relationships with nations that are interested in her high-tech industry.

Why History Really Matters

Now, you may be asking why all this information is even relevant.  After all, for those who believe in Jewish Scripture, Israel’s raison d’etre begins and ends with the Covenant.  Nevertheless, objective history, legal precedent and demography are essential for making Israel’s case to a world that may not share the same theological outlook.  And though these justifications are derived from secular sources, they do not detract from the religious integrity of those who believe in the Jews’ unbroken covenant with the Almighty.

For nearly 2,000 years, Jews yearned for the reestablishment of their ancestral nation, and this yearning was expressed affectingly by the following words from Psalm 137:

If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy.

As is turns out, there are also historical antecedents, legal precedents and demographic realities that validate this yearning and legitimize Israel’s incarnation as a modern, political state.




“Jerusalem is an Arab City.”
“The Temple Mount has always been a Muslim holy place and Judaism has no connection to the site.”
“Jerusalem need not be the capital of Israel.”
“Unlike the Jews, the Arabs were willing to accept the internationalization of Jerusalem.”
“Internationalization is the best solution to resolve the conflicting claims over Jerusalem.”
“While in control of Jersualem, Jordan ensured freedom of worship for all religions.”
“Jordan safeguarded Jewish holy places.”
“Under Israeli rule, religious freedom has been curbed in Jerusalem.”
“Israel denies Muslims and Christians free access to their holy sites.”
“Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem.”
“Israel has restricted the political rights of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem.”
“Under UN Resolution 242, East Jerusalem is considered ‘occupied territory.’”
“East Jerusalem should be part of a Palestinian state because because all its residents are Palestinian Arabs and no Jews have ever lived there.”
“The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“Palestinians have been careful to preserve the archaeological relics of the Temple Mount.”


“Jerusalem is an Arab City.”


Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for three millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840’s. Jerusalem contains the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history.Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. For Jews, the entire city is sacred, but Muslims revere only one site—the Dome of the Rock—not the city. “To a Muslim,” observed British writer Christopher Sykes, “there is a profound difference betweenJerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are holy places containing holy sites.” Besides the Dome of the Rock, he noted, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance. 1
Jerusalem’s Population 2


“The Temple Mount has always been a Muslim holy place and Judaism has no connection to the site.”


During the 2000 Camp David SummitYasser Arafat said that no Jewish Temple ever existed on the Temple Mount. 3 A year later, the Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrima Sabri, told the German publication Die Welt, “There is not [even] the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history.”4
These views are contradicted by a book entitled A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif, published by the Supreme Moslem Council in 1930. The Council, the principal Muslim authority in Jerusalem during theBritish Mandate, wrote in the guide that the Temple Mount site “is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”
“The Zionist movement has invented that this was the site of Solomon’s Temple. But this is all a lie.”
— Sheik Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel 5
In a description of the area of Solomon’s Stables, which Islamic Waqf officials converted into a new mosque in 1996, the guide states: “ . . . ​little is known for certain about the early history of the chamber itself. It dates probably as far back as the construction of Solomon’s Temple . . . ​According to Josephus, it was in existence and was used as a place of refuge by the Jews at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 A.D.” 6
More authoritatively, the Koran—the holy book of Islam—describes Solomon’s construction of the First Temple (34:13) and recounts the destruction of the First and Second Temples (17:7).
The Jewish connection to the Temple Mount dates back more than 3,000 years and is rooted in tradition and history. When Abraham bound his son Isaac upon an altar as a sacrifice to God, he is believed to have done so atop Mount Moriah, today’s Temple Mount. The First Temple’s Holy of Holies contained the originalArk of the Covenant, and both the First and Second Temples were the centers of Jewish religious and social life until the Second Temple’s destruction by the Romans. After the destruction of the Second Temple, control of the Temple Mount passed through several conquering powers. It was during the early period of Muslim control, in the Seventh Century, that the Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the ancient temples.


“Jerusalem need not be the capital of Israel.”


Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The Temple Mount in the Old City is the object of Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer. Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed “To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy,” and have repeated the Psalmist’s oath: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”
“For three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish hope and longing. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, culture, religion and consciousness of a people as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Throughout centuries of exile, Jerusalem remained alive in the hearts of Jews everywhere as the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal. This heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be ‘Jerusalem.’ ”
— Teddy Kollek 7


“Unlike the Jews, the Arabs were willing to accept the internationalization of Jerusalem.”


When the United Nations took up the Palestine question in 1947, it recommended that all of Jerusalem be internationalized. The Vatican and many predominantly Catholic delegations pushed for this status, but a key reason for the UN decision was the Soviet Bloc’s desire to embarrass Transjordan’s King Abdullah and his British patrons by denying Abdullah control of the city.
The Jewish Agency, after much soul-searching, agreed to accept internationalization in the hope that in the short-run it would protect the city from bloodshed and the new state from conflict. Since the partition resolution called for a referendum on the city’s status after 10 years, and Jews comprised a substantial majority, the expectation was that the city would later be incorporated into Israel. The Arab states were as bitterly opposed to the internationalization of Jerusalem as they were to the rest of the partition plan.
In May 1948Jordan invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews—whose families had lived in the city for centuries—into exile. The UN partition plan, including its proposal that Jerusalem be internationalized, was overtaken by events.
“You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it was they who made it famous.”
— Winston Churchill 8


“Internationalization is the best solution to resolve the conflicting claims over Jerusalem.”


The seeming intractability of resolving the conflicting claims to Jerusalem has led some people to resurrect the idea of internationalizing the city. Curiously, the idea had little support during the 19 years Jordan controlled the Old City and barred Jews and Israeli Muslims from their holy sites.
The fact that Jerusalem is disputed, or that it is of importance to people other than Israeli Jews, does not mean the city belongs to others or should be ruled by some international regime. There is no precedent for such a setup. The closest thing to an international city was post-war Berlin when the four powers shared control of the city, and that experiment proved to be a disaster.
Even if Israel were amenable to such an idea, what conceivable international group could be entrusted to protect the freedoms Israel already guarantees? Surely not the United Nations, which has shown no understanding of Israeli concerns since partition. Israel can count only on the support of the United States, and it is only in the UN Security Council that an American veto can protect Israel from political mischief by other nations.


While in control of Jerusalem, Jordan ensured freedom of worship for all religions.”


From 1948–67, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. Israel made western Jerusalem its capital;Jordan occupied the eastern section. Because Jordan maintained a state of war with Israel, the city became, in essence, two armed camps, replete with concrete walls and bunkers, barbed-wire fences, minefields and other military fortifications.
Under paragraph eight of the1949 Armistice Agreement, Jordan and Israel were to establish committees to arrange the resumption of the normal functioning of cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mt. Scopus, use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and free access to holy places and cultural institutions. Jordanviolated the agreement, however, and denied Israelis access to the Western Wall and to the cemetery on theMount of Olives, where Jews have buried their dead for more than 2,500 years.
Under Jordanian rule, “Israeli Christians were subjected to various restrictions during their seasonal pilgrimages to their holy places” in Jerusalem, noted Teddy Kollek. “Only limited numbers were grudgingly permitted to briefly visit the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter.” 9
In 1955 and 1964, Jordan passed laws imposing strict government control on Christian schools, including restrictions on the opening of new schools, state control over school finances and appointment of teachers and the requirements that the Koran be taught. In 1953 and 1965, Jordan adopted laws abrogating the right of Christian religious and charitable institutions to acquire real estate in Jerusalem.
In 1958, police seized the Armenian Patriarch-elect and deported him from Jordan, paving the way for the election of a patriarch supported by King Hussein’s government. Because of these repressive policies, many Christians emigrated from Jerusalem. Their numbers declined from 25,000 in 1949 to fewer than 13,000 in June 1967. 10
These discriminatory laws were abolished by Israel after the city was reunited in 1967.


“Jordan safeguarded Jewish holy places.”


Jordan desecrated Jewish holy places during its occupation in 1948–67. King Hussein permitted the construction of a road to the Intercontinental Hotel across the Mount of Olives cemetery. Hundreds of Jewish graves were destroyed by a highway that could have easily been built elsewhere. The gravestones, honoring the memory of rabbis and sages, were used by the engineer corps of the Jordanian Arab Legion as pavement and latrines in army camps (inscriptions on the stones were still visible when Israel liberated the city).
The ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City was ravaged, 58 Jerusalem synagogues—some centuries old—were destroyed or ruined, others were turned into stables and chicken coops. Slum dwellings were built abutting the Western Wall11


“Under Israeli rule, religious freedom has been curbed in Jerusalem.”


After the 1967 war, Israel abolished all the discriminatory laws promulgated by Jordan and adopted its own tough standard for safeguarding access to religious shrines. “Whoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them,” Israeli law stipulates, is “liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.” Israel also entrusted administration of the holy places to their respective religious authorities. Thus, for example, the Muslim Waqf has responsibility for the mosques on the Temple Mount.
The State Department notes that Israeli law provides for freedom of worship, and the Government respects this right. 12
“I also respect the fact that Israel allows for a multifaith climate in which every Friday a thousand Muslims pray openly on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When I saw that, I had to ask myself, where in the Islamic world can 1,000 Jews get together and pray in full public view?”
— Muslim author Irshad Manji 13


“Israel denies Muslims and Christians free access to their holy sites.”


Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians—many from Arab countries that remain in a state of war with Israel—have come to Jerusalem to see their holy places.
According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and it was from there that he made his ascent to heaven. The Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, both built in the seventh century, made definitive the identification of Jerusalem as the “Remote Place” that is mentioned in the Koran, and thus a holy place after Mecca and Medina. Muslim rights on the Temple Mount, the site of the two shrines, have not been infringed.
“There is only one Jerusalem. From our perspective, Jerusalem is not a subject for compromise. Jerusalem was ours, will be ours, is ours and will remain as such forever.”
— Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin 14
After reuniting Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan permitted the Islamic authority, the Waqf, to continue its civil authority on the Temple Mount even though it is part of the holiest site in Judaism. The Waqf oversees all day-to-day activity there. An Israeli presence is in place at the entrance to the Temple Mount to ensure access for people of all religions.
Arab leaders are free to visit Jerusalem to pray, just as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did at the al-Aqsamosque in 1977. For security reasons, restrictions are sometimes temporarily imposed on the Temple Mount, but the right to worship has never been abridged, and other mosques remain accessible even in times of high tension.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died and was resurrected. While it is the heavenly rather than the earthly Jerusalem that is emphasized by the Church, places mentioned in the New Testament as the sites of Jesus’ ministry have drawn pilgrims and devoted worshipers for centuries. Among these sites are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of the Last Supper, and the Via Dolorosa with the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
The rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem were defined in the course of the nineteenth century, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Known as the “status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem,” these rights remained in force during the period of the British Mandate and are still upheld today in Israel.


“Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem.”


Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. Palestinians have no special claim to the city; they simply demand it as their capital. Nevertheless, Israel has recognized that the city has a large Palestinian population, that the city is important to Muslims, and that making concessions on the sovereignty of the city might help minimize the conflict with the Palestinians. The Palestinians, however, have shown no reciprocal appreciation for the Jewish majority in the city, the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people or the fact that it is already the nation’s capital.
The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed in 1993 left open the status of Jerusalem. Article V said only that Jerusalem is one of the issues to be discussed in the permanent status negotiations.
“Anyone who relinquishes a single inch of Jerusalem is neither an Arab nor a Muslim.”
— Yasser Arafat 15
Most Israelis oppose dividing Jerusalem, still, efforts have been made to find some compromise that could satisfy Palestinian interests. For example, while the Labor Party was in power, Knesset Member Yossi Beilin reportedly reached a tentative agreement that would allow the Palestinians to claim the city as their capital without Israel sacrificing sovereignty over its capital. Beilin’s idea was to allow the Palestinians to set up their capital in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem — Abu Dis. The PA subsequently constructed a building for its parliament in the city.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered dramatic concessions that would have allowed the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state, and given the Palestinians control over the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. These ideas were discussed at the White House Summit in December 2000, but rejected by Yasser Arafat.
In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a peace plan that included the partitioning of Jerusalem on a demographic basis. Abbas rejected the offer.


“Israel has restricted the political rights of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem.”


Along with religious freedom, Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem have unprecedented political rights. Arab residents were given the choice of whether to become Israeli citizens. Most chose to retain their Jordanian citizenship. Moreover, regardless of whether they are citizens, Jerusalem Arabs are permitted to vote in municipal elections and play a role in the administration of the city.
“I’ll urge the Muslims to launch jihad and to use all their capabilities to restore Muslim Palestine and the holy al-Aqsa mosque from the Zionist usurpers and aggressors. The Muslims must be united in the confrontation of the Jews and those who support them.”
— Saudi King Fahd 16


“Under UN Resolution 242, East Jerusalem is considered ‘occupied territory.’ ”
One drafter of the UN Resolution was then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg. According to Goldberg, “Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate. . . . Jerusalem was a discrete matter, not linked to the West Bank.” In several speeches at the UN in 1967, Goldberg said: “I repeatedly stated that the armistice lines of 1948 were intended to be temporary. This, of course, was particularly true of Jerusalem. At no time in these many speeches did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory.” 17
Because Israel was defending itself from aggression in the 1948 and 1967 wars, former President of the International Court of Justice Steven Schwebel wrote, it has a better claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem than its Arab neighbors. 18


“East Jerusalem should be part of a Palestinian state because all its residents are Palestinian Arabs and no Jews have ever lived there.”


Before 1865, the entire population of Jerusalem lived behind the Old City walls (what today would be considered part of the eastern part of the city). Later, the city began to expand beyond the walls because of population growth, and both Jews and Arabs began to build in new areas of the city.
By the time of partition, a thriving Jewish community was living in the eastern part of Jerusalem, an area that included the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This area of the city also contains many sites of importance to the Jewish religion, including the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. In addition, major institutions such as Hebrew University and the original Hadassah Hospital are on Mount Scopus—in eastern Jerusalem.
The only time that the eastern part of Jerusalem was exclusively Arab was between 1949 and 1967, and that was because Jordan occupied the area and forcibly expelled all the Jews.
“The basis of our position remains that Jerusalem must never again be a divided city. We did not approve of the status quo before 1967; in no way do we advocate a return to it now.”
— President George Bush 19


“The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”


Of the 190 nations with which America has diplomatic relations, Israel is the only one whose capital is not recognized by the U.S. government. The U.S. embassy, like most others, is in Tel Aviv, 40 miles fromJerusalem. The United States does maintain a consulate in East Jerusalem, however, that deals with Palestinians in the territories and works independently of the embassy, reporting directly to Washington. Today, then, we have the anomaly that American diplomats refuse to meet with Israelis in their capital because Jerusalem’s status is negotiable, but make their contacts with Palestinians in the city.
In 1990, Congress passed a resolution declaring that “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel” and “must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.” During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton said: “I recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city, the eternal capital of Israel, and I believe in the principle of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.” He never reiterated this view as president; consequently, official U.S. policy remained that the status ofJerusalem is a matter for negotiations.
In an effort to change this policy, Congress overwhelmingly passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.This landmark bill declared that, as a statement of official U.S. policy, Jerusalem should be recognized as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel and required that the U.S. embassy in Israel be established inJerusalem no later than May 1999. The law also included a waiver that allowed the president to essentially ignore the legislation if he deemed doing so to be in the best interest of the United States. President Clintonexercised that option.
“I would be blind to disclaim the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”
— Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University 20
During the 2000 presidential campaign George W. Bush promised that as President he would immediately “begin the process of moving the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital.” 21 As President, however, Bush followed Clinton’s precedent and repeatedly used the presidential waiver to prevent the embassy from being moved. Since coming to office in 2008, President Obama has continued the policy of his predecessors.
While critics of congressional efforts to force the administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital insist that such a move would harm the peace process, supporters of the legislation argue the opposite is true. By making clear the United States position that Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty, unrealistic Palestinian expectations regarding the city can be moderated and thereby enhance the prospects for a final agreement.


“Palestinians have been careful to preserve the archaeological relics of the Temple Mount.”


Though it has refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the Waqf cooperated with Israeli inspectors when conducting work on the holy site. After the 1993 Oslo accords, however, the Jordanian-controlled Waqf was replaced with representatives beholden to the Palestinian Authority. Following the riots that accompanied Israel’s decision to open an exit from the Western Wall tunnel, the Waqf ceased cooperating with Israel.
The Waqf has subsequently prevented Israeli inspectors from overseeing work done on the Mount that has caused irreparable damage to archaeological remains from the First and Second Temple periods. Israeli archaeologists found that during extensive construction work, thousands of tons of gravel––which contained important relics––was removed from the Mount and discarded in the trash. Experts say that even the artifacts that were not destroyed were rendered archaeologically useless because the Palestinian construction workers mixed finds from diverse periods when they scooped up earth with bulldozers. 22
“They should be using a toothbrush, not a bulldozer.”
— Dr. Gabriel Barkan on Palestinian excavations on the Temple Mount 23
In August 2007, Israeli archaeologists discovered the Muslim authorities had begun fresh excavations on theTemple Mount to create a 500-foot trench for water pipes and electricity cables. By indiscriminately piling up earth and stones, Israeli officials say the Palestinians are once again harming a sensitive area. Archaeologists from the nonpartisan Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount say the digging has damaged a wall that dates back to Second-Temple times and was likely part of the Temple courts. 24
While an international protest was mounted when Israel began to renovate a bridge to the Temple Mountthat caused no harm, the same people who expressed such great concern about the integrity of the site have remained silent while the Palestinians destroy priceless relics.
Given the sensitivity of the Temple Mount, and the tensions already existing between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem, the Israeli government has not interfered in the Waqf’s activities. Meanwhile, the destruction of the past continues.
“There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aqsa [the mosque compound] and there is no proof that there was ever a temple.”
— Former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri 25

1 Encounter, (February 1968).
2 John Oesterreicher and Anne Sinai, eds., Jerusalem, (NY: John Day, 1974), p. 1; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics; Jerusalem Foundation; Municipality of Jerusalem; JTA, (May 20, 2009). Totals include those classified as “other.”
3 Interview with Dennis Ross, Fox News Sunday, (April 21, 2002).
4 Sheik ‘Ikrima Sabri, PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Interviewed by German magazine Die Welt, (January 17, 2001), [Trans. MEMRI].
5 Leon and Jill Uris, Jerusalem, (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1981), p. 13.
6 “A Brief Guide to the Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem,” Supreme Muslim Council, (1925).
7 Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem, (DC: Washington Institute For Near East Policy, 1990), pp. 19–20.
8 Sir Eveyln Shuckburgh, Descent to Suez; Diaries 1951–56, (London, 1986).
9 Kollek, p. 15.
10 Kollek, p. 16.
11 Kollek, p. 15.
12 “2010 Report on International Religious Freedom,” Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, (Washington, D.C., November 17, 2010).
13 Pearl Sheffy Gefen, “Irshad Manji, Muslim Refusenik,” Lifestyles Magazine, (Summer 2004), p. 29.
14 Jerusalem Day Address to Knesset, (May 29, 1995).
15 Voice of Palestine, Algiers, (September 2, 1993).
16 Saudi Press Agency, (July 15, 1986).
17 New York Times, (March 12, 1980).
18 American Journal of International Law, (April 1970), pp. 346–47.
19 Letter from President George Bush to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, (March 13, 1990).
20 Jerusalem Post, (November 12, 2001).
21 Speech to AIPAC Policy Conference, (May 22, 2000).
22 Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (February 13, 2001).
23 Martin Asser, “Israeli anger over holy site work,” BBC News, (August 28, 2007).
24 Martin Asser, “Israeli anger over holy site work,” BBC News, (August 28, 2007); Etgar Lefkovits, “Archaeologists: Muslim dig damaged Temple wall,” Jerusalem Post, (August 31, 2007).
25 Mike Seid, “Western Wall was never part of temple,” Jerusalem Post, (October 25, 2007).