Imagine if Vladimir Putin advanced a resolution at the U.N. General Assembly declaring that Minneapolis, Minnesota was the capital of the United States, the U.N. approved the resolution, and that the countries that voted in favor of it said that they would only conduct official business with the United States in Minneapolis starting today. (Memo to foreign diplomats: bring warm clothing; by next week, projections are -11° Fahrenheit in the evening.) No matter that the Washington, D.C. has been the U.S. capital since July 16, 1790, and that the White House, the Supreme Court, and Congress are all located there. As a U.S. citizen, what would your reaction be? Maybe something like, “I don’t care what the UN says.”
By analogy, Israel’s capital is Jerusalem and that’s where its equivalent democratic institutions are located (Supreme Court, Parliament, etc.). As precedent, Jerusalem was first declared Israel’s capital about 3,000 years ago. Regardless of any United Nations vote, Israelis will continue to conduct government affairs in its capital, just as any sovereign nation does in the city that it designates as its capital.
For the record, here’s what Donald Trump actually said about Jerusalem two weeks ago: “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.” And in the same declaration, he also said, “We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.” I fully agree with these statements.
Washington, D.C. is the capital of the U.S.; Moscow is the capital of Russian; Ottawa is the capital of Canada; Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. As a U.S. citizen who has seen many U.S. Presidents in the White House, I have never been so offended by any other president than its current occupant. But regardless of who the sitting U.S. president is, or what the United Nations declares, it’s a fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital for Israeli Jewish and Arab citizens.