Positions on Jerusalem

The international legal and diplomatic status of Jerusalem is unresolved. [1] Legal scholars disagree on how to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian dispute about it under international law. [2] Many United Nations (UN) member states formally adhere to the United Nations proposal that Jerusalem should have an international status. [3]

The chief dispute revolves around the legal status of East Jerusalem, while broader agreement exists regarding future Israeli presence in West Jerusalem. [2] De jure, the majority of UN member states and most international organisations do not recognize Israel's ownership of East Jerusalem, which came under its control after the 1967 Six-Day War, or its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation, which declared a "complete and united" Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. [4] As a result, foreign embassies are generally located in Tel Aviv and its suburbs.

Jerusalem is one of the key issues in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Both Israelis and the Palestinians want it as their capital. [5]

The European Union has said Jerusalem's status is that of corpus separatum. [6] [7] U.S. President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital since 6 December 2017. [8]


Jerusalem municipal area

From the end of the Ottoman–Mamluk War in 1517 until the First World War, Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Since the 1860s, Jews have formed the largest religious group in the city and since around 1887, Jews have been in the majority. [9] In the 19th century, European powers vied for influence in the city, usually on the basis of extending protection over Christian churches and Holy Places. A number of these countries also established consulates in Jerusalem. In 1917 and following the First World War, Great Britain was in control of Jerusalem; from 1923 as part of the Mandate of Palestine. The principal Allied Powers recognized the unique spiritual and religious interests in Jerusalem among the world's three great monotheistic religions as "a sacred trust of civilization", [10] and stipulated that the existing rights and claims connected with it be safeguarded in perpetuity, under international guarantee. [11]

However, the Arab and Jewish communities in Palestine were in mortal dispute and Britain sought United Nations assistance in resolving the dispute. In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (Resolution 181), which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem being established as a corpus separatum, or a "separated body" with a special legal and political status, administered by the United Nations. [12] Jewish representatives accepted the plan, while representatives of the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states rejected it, declaring it illegal. [2]

In May 1948, the Jewish community in Palestine issued the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel. The new state was quickly recognised de facto by the United States. [13] The United States extended official recognition after the first Israeli election, [14] on 31 January 1949. [15] Israel became a member of the United Nations on 11 May 1949. [16] The states recognizing Israel did not recognize its sovereignty over Jerusalem generally citing the UN resolutions which called for an international status for the city. [17]

With the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel and the subsequent invasion by surrounding Arab states, the UN proposal for Jerusalem never materialised. The 1949 Armistice Agreements left Jordan in control of the eastern parts of the city, while the western sector was held by Israel. [18] Each side recognised the other's de facto control of their respective sectors. [19] The Armistice Agreement, however, was considered internationally as having no legal effect on the continued validity of the provisions of the partition resolution for the internationalisation of Jerusalem. [20] Soon after Israel declared that Jerusalem was an inseparable part of the State of Israel and its eternal capital. In 1950, Jordan annexed eastern Jerusalem. Though the United Kingdom and Pakistan recognized Jordanian rule over eastern Jerusalem, [21] no other foreign country recognized either Jordanian or Israeli rule over the respective areas of the city under their control. [18]

Following the 1967 war, Israel declared that Israeli law would be applied to East Jerusalem and enlarged its eastern boundaries, approximately doubling its size. The action was deemed unlawful by other states who did not recognize it. It was condemned by the UN Security Council and General Assembly who described it as an annexation in violation of the rights of the Palestinian population. In 1980, Israel passed a law declaring that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel". [22] The law was declared null and void by the Security council in Resolution 478 and in numerous resolutions by the UN General assembly. [23] [24] [25]