Charles M. Abelsohn – Letter from Israel – Jerusalem Part III
Jordan’s Illegal Annexation
In 1950, Jordan annexed the territories it had captured in the 1948 war—previously Samaria and Judea now renamed the West Bank which included eastern Jerusalem. The April
24th resolution declared “its support for complete unity between the two sides of the Jordan and their union into one State, which is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at whose head reigns King Abdullah Ibn al Husain…”
Great Britain and Pakistan were the only countries that recognized Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank – all other nations, including the Arab states, rejected it. However, Great Britain never recognized Jordan’s annexation of eastern Jerusalem. In addition, there was one additional organization that did recognize Jordan`s sovereignty over the West Bank, which as mentioned, included eastern Jerusalem.
One Other Party accepts Jordan`s Annexation and confirms it has No Claim to the West Bank (which included Jerusalem)
There were no Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There were no Jews living in the West Bank, including “eastern” Jerusalem. The 1967 “borders” were fully under Arab
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a Palestinian organization founded in 1964 with the purpose of the “liberation of Palestine” through armed struggle, with much of its violence aimed at Israeli civilians. Yet the Palestinians did NOT claim the West Bank or even state that they had a claim to the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
In fact, the Palestinians did exactly the opposite. In article 24 of its Charter, issued in 1964, the Palestinians expressly renounced sovereignty to Gaza and the West Bank, which included unequivocally renouncing any claim to “eastern” Jerusalem. Specifically, the Palestinians made no mention of Jerusalem in their 1964 Charter or even in their updated charter of 1968, following the Six Day War. For the Palestinians, “Palestine” was the country known today as Israel, NOT the West Bank and Gaza and the “occupied territories consisted of pre-1967 Israel. In short, when the Palestinians had an opportunity between 1948 and 1967, they did not claim the West Bank and Gaza as their country nor Jerusalem as their capital.
The 1964 PLO Charter, Article 24: “This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political and financial fields.”
The first formal Palestinian claim to Jerusalem I found was set out in the Palestinian Declaration of Independence of November 14, 1988: “The National Council proclaims, in the name of God and the Palestinian Arab people, the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian land, with the Holy City of Jerusalem as its capital.”
It would appear that the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem as its “eternal” capital goes back – all of about 30 years!
Religious Restrictions and Denial of Access to Holy Sites
In direct contravention of the 1949 armistice agreements, between 1949 and 1967, Jordan did not permit Jews access to their holy sites nor to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
Article VIII of the Israel Jordan Armistice Agreement (April 3, 1949) established a special committee which would “direct its attention to the formulation of agreed plans and arrangements” including “free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.”
Nevertheless, and despite numerous requests by Israeli officials and Jewish groups to the UN, the U.S., and others to attempt to enforce the armistice agreement, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall, the Jewish cemetery and all religious sites in eastern Jerusalem. The armistice lines were sealed as Jordanian snipers would perch on the walls of the Old City and shoot at Israelis across the lines.
Israeli Arabs, too, were denied access to the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
While Christians, unlike Jews, were allowed access to their holy sites, they too were subject to numerous restrictions under Jordanian law. There were limits on the numbers of Christian pilgrims permitted into the Old City and Bethlehem during Christmas and Easter. Christian charities and religious institutions were prohibited from buying real estate in Jerusalem or owning property near holy sites. The materials taught in Christian schools were subject to strict controls. They were required to teach in Arabic, close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, and teach all students the Koran. At the same time, they were not allowed to teach Christian religious material to non-Christians. Between 1948 and 1967, the Christian population decreased by 50%.
Jerusalem has been the acknowledged capital of the Jewish people for about 3,000 years. It is more than reasonable to ask why the world considers the very short nineteen years period of when Jordan occupied Jerusalem illegally and made the eastern part of Jerusalem Judenrein, without even declaring Jerusalem to be a provincial or district capital, to be the eternal “status quo”. Under the illegal Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967, not one Arab Head of State visited Jerusalem or prayed in the Al Aqsa Mosque. No Jordanian government office or council of any importance was located in Jerusalem. As will be seen below, the city was “dead”.
Here are Jordan’s Rules for Tourists as reported in the NY Times May 1955
From 1948-1967 the Jordanian kings, father and son, occupied and ruled over east Jerusalem and the so-called West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Neither made Jerusalem their capital.
Meanwhile, in 1949 Prime Minister Ben-Gurion proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This was the third time Jerusalem was proclaimed as the Jewish capital, dating back to King David’s time, 3,000 years ago.
The Jordanian guide book mentioned above provides an interesting map of the area. Notice that the West Bank isn’t “occupied Palestine.” It is not even Palestine. Now look at the area marked as the “Occupied Area of Palestine”. Yes, it is the area today known as Israel.
1967: Reunification of Jerusalem
During the 1967 war, Israel appealed to Jordan to stay out of the war, but despite this appeal, Jordanian forces fired artillery barrages ranging from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Initially, the Israeli forces did not respond since Israel did not want to open up a third, Jordanian, front in the war. However, Jordan continued to attack and occupied the UN headquarters in Jerusalem. Israeli forces were compelled to respond and within two days managed to repulse the Jordanian forces and retake eastern Jerusalem.
On June 7, 1967, IDF paratroopers advanced through the Old City toward the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. bringing Jerusalem’s holiest site under Jewish control for the first time in 2000 years. There are sound recordings of the scene, as the commander of the brigade, Lt. General Mordechai (Motta) Gur, approaches the Old City and announces to his company commanders, “We’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City…” and shortly afterwards, “The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!” General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of the IDF, sounded the Shofar at the Western Wall to signify its liberation. To Israelis and Jews all over the world, this was a joyous and momentous occasion.
Legal Status of Jerusalem
Is there a simple answer to the question of who “owns” or has the legal right to Jerusalem?
Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded:
“if a theoretical court that was 100-percent objective were to study the legally relevant facts, ignoring politics, it would find
unequivocally that only Israel possesses the exclusive title to Jerusalem. Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law.”
Gauthier has written, and successfully defended, a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier`s dissertation is probably the most exhaustive and conclusive work on the subject of the right to Jerusalem.
Gauthier’s main point is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began in April 1920 at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel as well as Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The conference’s decisions were confirmed unanimously by all fifty-one member countries of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922 and they were further endorsed by a joint resolution of the United States Congress in the same year, the Lodge-Fish Resolution “Favoring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
It is therefore obvious that the legitimacy of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and a Jewish state in Palestine as defined before the creation of Transjordan, all derive from the same binding international agreement at San Remo, that has never been abrogated.
His discussion on San Remo, the League of Nations, the Mandate and the United Nations Charter provision incorporating San Remo (paragraph 80) is well beyond the scope of this Letter.
With regard to Jerusalem, Gauthier concludes his analysis by rejecting the idea that any later events – such as the UN Partition Plan, UN Resolution 242, or the Oslo Accords – superseded Israel’s “title” to Jerusalem. He notes that the UN charter and a famous International Court of Justice case about Namibia (then known as ‘South West Africa’), specifically uphold earlier decisions of major conferences and of the League of Nations.
He also commented on the popular notion that Israel could not have the title over east Jerusalem through military conquest by noting that this principle of international law does not apply in a situation where the title has already been granted to the territory in question.
Since Jordan`s occupation of that part of Jerusalem and the Old City (subsequently referred to as Eastern Jerusalem) in 1948 was illegal, Israel could not be expected to lose their rights when they reconquered it in 1967, since it was already theirs under international law, he said.
The American legal scholar Stephen Schwebel, who would become President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, wrote in 1970 in the American Journal of International Law: “Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt….When the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against the prior holder, better title.”
Cambridge Professor Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice and a renowned editor of one of the ‘bibles’ of international law, International Law Reports wrote in 1968, one year after the 1967 Six-Day War:
“On 5th June, 1967, Jordan deliberately overthrew the Armistice Agreement by attacking the Israeli-held part of Jerusalem. There was no question of this Jordanian action being a reaction to any Israeli attack. It took place notwithstanding explicit Israeli assurances, conveyed to King Hussein through the U.N. Commander, that if Jordan did not attack Israel, Israel would not attack Jordan.
“Although the charge of aggression is freely made against Israel in relation to the Six-Days War, the fact remains that the two attempts made in the General Assembly in June-July 1967 to secure the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor
failed. A clear and striking majority of the members of the U.N. voted against the proposition that Israel was an aggressor.”
According to the opinions of three of the most reputable international lawyers, Israel has the better title to the territory of what was mandatory Palestine, specifically including the whole of Jerusalem.
So, Whose Jerusalem?
Let`s summarize the historical, religious, demographic and legal connection of Jews and Israel to Jerusalem and why the recognition of Jerusalem by the USA and other countries as Israel`s capital is correct.
Jews have regarded Jerusalem as their capital for about 3,000 years. Since 1949, Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital.
Since Jerusalem`s founding by King David about 3,000 years ago, no other religion or nation has regarded or declared Jerusalem as its or their capital. Specifically, during the period 1948 to 1967, no country declared eastern Jerusalem to be its capital and no third party (including the Palestinians) claimed Jerusalem as its capital.
Jerusalem and/or Zion are mentioned 823 times in the Old Testament and 161 times in the New Testament. Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran.
In an age when being “indigenous” is of importance, the Jewish First Temple was built about 1,000 BCE (3,000 years ago), the earliest synagogue appears to have been built about 100 BCE or about 2,100 years ago, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built about 330AD or about 1,700 years ago and the first Mosque was built “only” about 700AD or
1,300 years ago. It is to be noted that the first Mosque was built on Mount Moriah or the location of the First Temple which is undoubtedly an acknowledgement of the Jewish claim to the holiness of that particular location.
Archeologists have discovered substantial evidence confirming the Jewish presence and the use of the Hebrew language in Jerusalem in biblical times. Arabic was only introduced by the Arab invaders, colonists and settlers (the current politically correct description when, as an act of aggression, a people invade, conquer and settle the territory of another people) of the 7th century.
With their prayers remembering Jerusalem three times daily, with three pilgrimages each year to Jerusalem, with the exclamation of “Next Year in Jerusalem” on Passover and the Day of Atonement, with the mourning for Jerusalem on the 9th of Av and with the remembrance of Jerusalem as an
integral part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, Jerusalem has been and is in the continuous collective emotional passionate and religious memory of Jews everywhere and at all times. There is no equivalent by any third party.
The presence of Moslem Holy Sites in other countries does not give rise to any claim for such sites to be declared the capital of that country. Mecca is not the capital of Saudi- Arabia.
Between about 637 AD (the Moslem capture of Jerusalem) and 1917, the whole of Jerusalem and then between 1948 and 1967, the eastern part of Jerusalem was held first by the Ottoman Empire and then by Jordan, yet Jerusalem was never declared to be the capital.
Jews have constituted an absolute or relative majority of the population of Jerusalem for over 300 years.
The establishment of the Jewish owned and managed Ricardo Bank in 1848 is compelling evidence of Jewish activity in the 19th century in trade and commerce. There are no indications of Arab commercial activity in Jerusalem in the early 19th century or any other period.
Reputable international lawyers have confirmed Israel`s better title to Jerusalem.
Certainly, the 19 years of illegal occupation of Jerusalem by Jordan prior to 1967 does not confer any right on the Palestinians after 1967 to claim eastern Jerusalem as their capital. The six square miles and 65,000 population held by Jordan on 4 June 1967, on a date that the Palestinians still acknowledged that they had no claim to the West Bank, which then included Jerusalem, (article 24 of the PLO Charter) in and of themselves do not for the Palestinians a capital make.
Let`s not forget that under article 24 of the Palestinian charter of 1964 the Palestinians stated loud and clear that they have no claim to the West Bank. In fact, only in 1988, and without any legal, historical, demographic or religious substantiation, did the Palestinians appear to remember to “demand” Jerusalem to be their “eternal” capital.
In short, there does not appear to be any historical, religious, legal or demographic basis to the “new” demand that a small area of Jerusalem now be elevated to the status of Palestinian capital.
Jordan, who was part of the Arab coalition against Israel in the 1948 war, ethnic cleansed the captured areas of Jerusalem of its ancient Jewish community, destroyed 58 synagogues and used Jewish gravestones for construction purposes. In blatant contravention of the provisions of the Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan, for 19 years Jews were not permitted to visit or pray at the Western Wall (Kotel). If for no other reason: once bitten, twice shy.
Since 1967, under Israeli control, and for the first time since the Moslem conquest of 637 AD, there is freedom of religion for all faiths and free access to the holy sites of all faiths.
Between May 1948 and June 1967, there were no Israeli settlements, no Jews in eastern Jerusalem and no occupation. Jordanian held Jerusalem was not even declared to be a district capital. Yet the Palestinians did not demand a Palestinian State nor were there demands for a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem by either the Palestinians or any other third party such as the EU. What happened between 4 June 1967 (Eastern Jerusalem held by Jordan) and 10 June 1967 (Eastern Jerusalem held by Israel) or since which gave the Palestinians the right to demand that eastern Jerusalem now be deemed their capital? Let`s be honest with the reply to this question: Absolutely nothing then and nothing since then.
The late Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, is reputed to have said: This lady is not for turning. In that spirit, Israel needs to make it known, loudly and clearly: Jerusalem is not for returning.