Israel’s legal rights to Jerusalem: A primer

In the wake of Donald Trump’s announcements regarding Jerusalem and the corresponding reactions from the Arab and Islamic world, it is important to understand why Trump’s announcement is so controversial as why there have been so many negative reactions to Trump’s announcement. This week it was announced that United States President, Donald trump, would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the United States embassy to Jerusalem in the future. And much of the Arab & Islamic world has reacted with predictable fury and threats of violence. Ostensibly, this upset on the part of the Islamic world comes from their wanting to be able to claim the land as their own in a future peace agreement. With Jerusalem being recognized as the capital city of Israel by the United States, it fundamentally doesn’t change reality on the ground as Jerusalem is the country’s capital already, and those countries who recognize Israel acknowledge at the very least half the city would be Israel’s in any agreement. So why the fuss? Clearly, this is not any impediment to peace, but merely an excuse for bloodshed.

Friday, the eighth of December was a day of rioting in cities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza because of Trump’s announcement. Pictures of United States president Donald Trump were burned and protesters filled the streets. All because they want sole ownership of Jerusalem and this city that they want ownership of has been recognized and solidified as Israeli.

Separate from the diplomatic recognition and non-recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the anti-Israel propaganda machine is now working overtime to convince the world that the holy city is illegally occupied by Israel. This question is fundamental. Depending on who legally owns Jerusalem, it can be taken into consideration whether or not Jerusalem can really be the capital city of the state of Israel.

Jerusalem is a Holy City for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In 1920, the British allied powers of the first world war held a conference that would determine the fate of the middle east after the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Among the decisions made was the decision to place a mandate on the land we now know as Israel to create a national homeland for the Jewish people. This mandate would come to be known as the Mandate for Palestine. This mandate would also recognize the historical connection between the Jewish people and the regions of Judea, Samaria. This land would include Jerusalem because the land includes the West Bank, which is after Jerusalem.   This mandate would have allowed the Jewish people to create a capital city in Jerusalem. 1922, the league of nations approved Mandatory Palestine.

In 1945, the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations. Within the United Nations Charter, there was an article included that would come to be known as article 80. This article dictated that any international instruments put in place by the League of Nations would not be changed or contradicted by the new governing body. This would include any of the middle eastern mandates put in place at the San Remo conference, which would also include the Mandate for Palestine. Making any changes to the mandate for Palestine would violate article 80 of the United Nations charter.

In 1947, under Resolution 181 by the United Nations, there was a proposal for a Jewish state and an Arab state, meanwhile Jerusalem would remain an international city. To be a citizen of Jerusalem would mean not being a citizen of the Jewish state or the Arab state. With this Resolution, Jerusalem would have remained an international city for ten years and then a vote would have been held to determine the status of jerusalem. The Jewish people accepted this resolution, the Arab communities did not. This would have been a violation of Article 80 of the United Nations’ own charter had it been accepted by both parties.

In 1948, Israel declared independence. Within twenty-four hours of declaring independence, five Arab states declared war on Israel. Israel may have held its own, but one of the results of the first Arab-Israeli war was Jordan’s illegal capturing and occupying of Jerusalem. Jordan would maintain their hold on Jerusalem until the six-day war in 1967.

Two important resolutions came out of the result of the 6 day war. The first resolution was the Khartoum resolution in August of 1967. This resolution was the product of the a post-war summit held by the Arab league in Khartoum, the Capital city of Sudan. The Khartoum resolution was a decision to have no peace or negotiations with Israel and they also decreed that they would not recognize Israel’s statehood. Since 1967, not all the countries involved in the Summit continue to follow the Khartoum resolution, but the Palestinian Liberation Organization continues to. Now the second decision actually came from the United Nations. Resolution 242, passed in November of 1967, stated that Israel could keep all the land it had gained or retained in the six day war until the region was secure and had proper borders. As long as the Palestinian Liberation Organization continues to uphold the Khartoum resolution, the region will not be secure and therefore should remain under Israeli protection.

Jerusalem legally belongs to Israel because it was part of the the mandate for Palestine drawn up in 1920 and accepted in 1922 by the League of Nations. Any contradiction performed by the United Nations in regards to Israel goes against their own charter. The Khartoum rejection of israel only shows that Arab rejectionism is the core of the conflict.

Realistically this is entirely legal, to reject the United State’s decision to support Israel decision to make Jerusalem their capital city is to reject international law. International law is important because it creates a framework for international relations, which includes statehood, sovereignty, even the prevention of war. International law cannot be made a mockery of and the values that International law were created to instill is meant to preserve human life. Realistically, diplomacy is at stake when International law is disregarded. International relations fall apart because an important process is ignored and people could be put in jeopardy because of it if they are disregarded. Realistically other countries should be standing with the United States and supporting the decision to make Jerusalem the capital city of Israel and to move their Embassy to Jerusalem. More than anything because it should already be the case and is bound by long-standing international laws. People cannot ignore international law because a group of people oppose a decision and choose to riot. That is terrorism and terrorism should not lead people to reject international law and the values it instills. Jerusalem already legally belongs to Israel, no amount of rioting or terror should affect international law because the rioters want the land for themselves and want to force another group of people out for religious reasons. Outrage is unjustified, as the global community should be standing with the United States to promote Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to condemn the actions of those who disrespect International law and try to take actions into their own hands to get what they want.

About the Author
Josh Socket is a recent Ryerson student with a degree in arts and contemporary studies, who has recently returned from working in Jerusalem. From Thornhill woods, a Suburbs of Toronto, Josh went to a predominantly Jewish high school and was a brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Josh Socket is also a fellow with Hasbara fellowships
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