Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Israel justifies its control of Jerusalem, July 1967

Jerusalem is one of the most famous cities in the world - and has been for most of the past few thousand years. Being famous, however, can mean that lots of people are convinced they know all about it, when in fact they know very little, or very inaccurate. So I'm launching a series of publications on this blog about Jerusalem; much of it will be previously unpublished documentation.

Item number one is a 7-page document from July 10th 1967. The first page is in Hebrew and is a brief record of a discussion of a sub-committee of Israeli cabinet ministers who had been given the task to authorize the response Israel was about to send to the Secretary General of the United Nations; the rest of the document is the English-language response itself. This response may be accessible also in the UN archives.

Soon after the end of the Six Day war Israel annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem. (I may post some of the documents from that process in future posts). By June 21st, less than two weeks after the war, the General Assembly had launched a series of  discussions about Israeli control of Jerusalem before adopting a Pakistani resolution condemning it. It's interesting that the Israeli response was deemed so important that the Foreign Minsitry draft response required ministerial confirmation.

The response itself shies away from acknowledging that Israel has just annexed the Old City, preferring to describe the policy not the legality. The thrust of the document is that Jordanian control of Jerusalem was illegal and destructive, and now the Israelis are fixing things.
As a result of military conquest carried out in 1948 in violation of the Charter and against the express injunction of the Security Council, the section of Jerusalem in which the HolyPlaces are concentrated had been governed for 19 years by a regime which refused to accord any acknowledgement to international interests. The city was divided by a military demarcation line. Two seperate systems of municipal administration came into existence, and there was no possibility of harmonization in matters of civic concern. Instead of security there was hostility. Free access to the Holy Places of all three religions was not allowed. Houses of worship were desecrated and destroyed.
Since the end of hostility there is peace in the city. Israel has taken upon itself all municipal services and the document lists the many fields of improvement - water supply, freedom of religion, reinstated human conctact between people on both sides of the line and so on.
Where there was hostile separation there is now constructive civic union. Where there was a contsant threat of violence there is now peace. Where there was once an assertion of exclusive and unilateral responsibility for the Holy Places, exercised in sacreligious discrimination, there is now a willingness to reach agreements with the world's religious authorities Jewish, Christian, Muslim, in order to to put the administration of the Holy Places within a universal context.
Finally, the letter closed with anticipation that
The government of Israel is convinced that world opinon will wecome the prospect of seeing Jerusalem thrive in unity, peace and spiritual elevation.
Well, that part didn't really work out.

[The document is in file 7910/28]

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