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Israel Declares Jerusalem Its Capital

January 23, 2018

On this date in 1950, Israel’s Knesset (pictured at its temporary location) declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel — defying the UN’s partition resolution of November 29, 1947, which had envisioned the city as a “corpus separatum [separated body] under a special international regime [to] be administered by the United Nations.” The Israeli declaration came in response to the UN General Assembly resolution of December 9, 1949 to reaffirm and reactivate this international trusteeship plan. The Knesset vote was 61 (some sources say 60) to 2. The dissenting votes were cast by the Communist party; the socialist Mapam and rightwing Herut abstained, the latter due to the rejection of its demand to specify that the declaration also applied to Jordanian-held eastern Jerusalem. “We see fit to state,” Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had declared in December 1949, “that Jewish Jerusalem is an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an integral part of Jewish history and belief. . . We are proud of the fact that Jerusalem is also sacred to other religions, and will gladly provide access to their holy places and enable them to worship as and where they please . . . We cannot imagine, however, that the U.N. would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel. . .” Nevertheless, most countries, including the United States, would establish their embassies in Tel Aviv.

“A Governor of the City of Jerusalem shall be appointed by the Trusteeship Council and shall be responsible to it. He shall be selected on the basis of special qualifications and without regard to nationality. He shall not, however, be a citizen of either State in Palestine.” —UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) -- Future government of Palestine (November 29, 1947)