Last week, the world reacted – mostly with disapprobation – to the fact that “the Leader of the Free World” faced up to reality and declared to all that Jerusalem is, indeed, Israel’s capital. The mass hysteria from the so-called “Palestinians” – and, indeed, from the entire Muslim world, (which recognises no Jewish rights in Jerusalem and denies our history there), is understandable, despite the fact that President Trump crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s when he spelled out what he means by that. He stated, quite clearly, that there is nothing in the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to prevent that city (or part of it) from eventually serving as the capital of a “Palestinian” state (an event I devoutly hope will never take place!), or, indeed, to express an opinion as to the borders of Israel’s capital. Many of us, in fact, noted – with disappointment – that he most emphatically did not refer to the city as Israel’s undivided capital. On the other hand, if you were listening carefully, you might have noticed the slight emphasis on the word “Israel”, when he said, at 5:29: “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital” (which is to say, nobody else’s).
Less understandable is the agitated response from other countries of the so-called Free World, who got their knickers into a real twist, claiming this was “ill-timed” and would further hinder the progress of the “Peace Process”. Ill-timed it certainly was! This is a declaration that should have been made 69 years ago. “The Free World” has long recognised the State of Israel within her 1949 armistice boundaries. Why, then, will they not recognise at least “West Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital?
The capital city of a country, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary , is “The city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a capital city as “being the seat of government”.
As President Trump so succinctly and clearly pointed out, Jerusalem fulfils all these functions. Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, is in Jerusalem. Israel’s Supreme Court is in Jerusalem. The official residences of Israel’s President and Prime Minister are in Jerusalem. (All of these, by the way, are in “West Jerusalem” – that part of the city which lies within Israel’s internationally recognised boundaries.) The head offices of all the government ministries are also in Jerusalem. Thus, the legislature, judiciary and executive branches of government are all headquartered in Jerusalem. The same can most emphatically not be said of the instruments of government of the non-existent “State of Palestine”, which, in so far as they exist at all, are to be found either in Ramallah, or the Gaza Strip.
As for “hindering the Peace Process” – it should be blindingly obvious to everyone that there is no peace process. No doubt, the “Palestinians” will use this as yet another excuse not to negotiate – but then, they’ve been avoiding negotiations for decades, and perhaps the time has come for them to understand that, as time goes by, the rest of the world is also likely to reach the same conclusion as President Trump, namely, that “the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace” has proven to be a false hope, that “we cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past” and that “it would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.”
And, if it comes to that – why would the establishment of a Palestinian state be dependent on having Jerusalem as its capital? When the United Nations passed the 1947 Partition Resolution, providing for the division of the Palestine Mandate territory into two states, one Jewish and one Arab (not “Palestinian”), it expressly determined that Jerusalem was to be a corpus separatum, not to be included in either state. The Jewish leadership accepted, albeit with heavy hearts, because they recognised the vital necessity of having a national homeland for the Jewish people even if, as so many Jewish leaders have put it, the Land of Israel, without Jerusalem, is like a body without a soul. The Arabs, however, rejected it – as they have rejected every offer of a settlement made to them since then. Clearly the “Palestinians” are not so desperate for an independent state as they would have us all believe.
Pessimists among Israel’s supporters and friends point out that President Trump made it clear that the actual transfer of the American Embassy will not take place for several years and that “talk costs nothing”. But we should remember – there was a time when no less than sixteen states had their embassies in Jerusalem, including the Netherlands, a handful from Africa, and almost a dozen from Latin America. As we see, embassies can be moved. On the other hand, the world’s only super power is now on record as recognising Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
An official declaration recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not so easy to change.