The history of Israel’s contentious ‘eternal capital’
President Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel came 68 years after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed it as the “eternal capital” of the Jewish state.
On Dec. 13, 1949, the first Knesset voted to relocate the nascent country’s seat of government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which the 1947 UN Partition Plan had designated as an international city.
“There has always been and always will be one capital only — Jerusalem the eternal. Thus it was 3,000 years ago — and thus it will be, we believe, until the end of time,” Ben-Gurion said.
A day after Israel declared its independence in 1948, its Arab neighbors attacked the new nation and were defeated. Jerusalem, home to some of the holiest sites of the three monotheistic religions, became a divided city.
Although neither Jews nor Arabs were supposed to claim sovereignty over the city, Israel controlled the western half and Jordan the eastern half, including the famous Old City.
Jerusalem, a city of about 850,000 people — 37 percent Arab and 61 percent Jewish — has been under Israel’s authority since the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Israeli army took East Jerusalem.
Although Israel’s government considers Jerusalem the eternal and indivisible capital, that is not recognized internationally.
In 1980, the Knesset passed a law declaring the “complete and united” city of Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.
The UN Security Council responded with a resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and declared it a violation of international law.
Other countries have had embassies in Jerusalem in the past, but moved them out years ago. In 2006, Costa Rica and El Salvador were the last to pull out for Tel Aviv.
The US Embassy has always been in Tel Aviv, but in 1995, Congress passed a law requiring that it be moved it to Jerusalem.
Since then, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have declined to move it, citing national-security interests, and used a waiver every six months to circumvent a move.
With Post wires