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No city in the world creates as much controversy as Jerusalem. What is the current status of the Holy Land? The UN has tried to clarify it several times.
What is the status of Jerusalem in the international legal framework?
Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their own capital. At present, the entire city is under Israeli control. His international legal status was never clarified. If we leave the decision in the hands of the international community, the United Nations would administer the city of Jerusalem or that was what the General Assembly of the United Nations approved in 1947.
What exactly did the UN plan for Jerusalem in 1947?
In resolution 181, the UN had approved the division of Palestine into two parts: one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem should not belong to any of the parties, but would be demilitarized and would be under international control. After ten years, city dwellers should vote in a referendum on their future.
Why was that plan never carried out?
The plan did not have the blessing of many Jews and Arabs. After the UN resolution was announced, violence between Jews and Arabs in Palestine increased significantly. After Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, the Armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon invaded the newly proclaimed State of Israel. Jerusalem, as a result of the War of Independence or Arab-Israeli War, was divided and controlled in the East by Jordan and in the West by Israel.
What status does Jerusalem have since Israel occupied West Jerusalem?
In 1950, Israel recognized Jerusalem as its capital and located official buildings in the west of the city. In the Six Day War in 1967, Israel occupied the eastern part of the city, which was ruled by Jordan. Since then there was introduced the Israeli law. In 1980, the Israeli Parliament declared the entire territory of the city as an indivisible capital.
The Security Council of the United Nations declared such annexation void in resolution 478 and, since then, has ratified it repeatedly.
And how do Palestinians define the status of the city?
The PLO, the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine, proclaimed the State of Palestine and Jerusalem as its capital. Previously, Jordan had renounced East Jerusalem and the other Palestinian territories. In the course of the rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians, the question about Jerusalem was excluded. The Oslo Agreement in 1993 provided for a subsequent own agreement. 136 of the 193 members of the UN recognized the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
Does the status of the city change after Donald Trump’s decision?
That the United States adopts the Israeli position, does not change the international legal situation. Most countries postpone the final clarification on the status of Jerusalem. They expect from Israelis and Palestinians a basic agreement on the solution of the two states of the Arab-Israeli conflict. With Trump’s decision, the decision on the new status of Jerusalem is even more distant.
The “eternal, indivisible” city of Jerusalem
The official Israeli part speaks of the “eternal, invisible” city. Israel claims the entire territory of Jerusalem, also the Arab part of East Jerusalem, which Israeli troops occupied, annexed and proclaimed Israeli capital in 1967 during the Six Day War. This status has never been recognized by the international community and, therefore, the embassies are in Tel Aviv. The Palestinians, for their part, claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent State.
“It’s the right decision, I’ve been living here for 45 years, since I was born and the time has come when the world recognizes Jerusalem as our capital,” says Sarah Partouche, while others are skeptical when they think of the consequences that a decision of that caliber. “No, for coexistence is not viable, everything will be more complicated,” says a passerby, while others wonder what the relocation of the US embassy may cause: “For me, Jerusalem is our capital, regardless of what say, “says Ravit BenNaim.
Consternation in East Jerusalem
However, in East Jerusalem this new step of the United States is seen as a disappointment. “Nothing will change, in fact, the world has recognized Jerusalem as an Israeli capital for a long time,” says Abu Mohammed, who reads a newspaper in a café. “We are busy since 1967 and nothing will change if the US Embassy moves or not.”
Others think that it is incomprehensible that the United States wants, with this step, to recognize “the existing realities”, as could be heard in the circles close to the White House. “Mr. Trump has no idea how the people live here,” says Shihnaz Salem, a Palestinian-American, who is visiting East Jerusalem. Others are clearer, like Hanan Abu Geith, a young Palestinian: “No, Jerusalem can not be the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. We belong. “
The details of Trump’s statement have not yet been released, but many fear that the episodes of violence will repeat themselves. The Palestinian parties have called for three days of protests in Jerusalem, in the Palestinian territories and also in the US embassies abroad.
Symbolic act with serious consequences
Criticisms have been expected. Many countries, also the allies, have shown their dissatisfaction with Trump’s decision. Having telephoned with the president of the United States, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that he will not give up his right to proclaim East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. King Abdullah II of Jordan, for his part, warned of the destabilizing effect throughout the Middle East. The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz, said that Muslims around the world would see the decision as a provocation. The EU has also opposed this step.
Practically it will not change much, because the transfer to Jerusalem will take several years to be carried out. The announcement is just the beginning of a long process, heard in the White House. But it is the symbolism that counts and this has a lot of weight in a place like Jerusalem. “The ones receive their capital,” sums up a Palestinian. “And we? No idea. It is totally uncertain what will happen, “he adds.