Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jewish Law in Jerusalem

Yesterday, we put online the declassified transcript of the cabinet discussion about enacting Israeli law in east Jerusalem after the Six Day War (two days after, to be precise). For the sake of completeness and context, here's the record of the earlier government discussion that took place regarding Israeli-controlled west Jerusalem from August 1, 1948.

Back in 1947, the United Nations had authorized the partition of Mandatory Palestine, leaving Jerusalem and Bethlehem outside both states as a Corpus Separatum. But in reality, none of the warring sides had much interest in Jerusalem being internationalized, whatever that might mean. So once the Jordanians and the Israelis understood that the line between their forces in Jerusalem was likely to be there for quite a while, each side moved to formalize their domination over their part of town. The provisional Israeli government deliberated the method of this enactment on August 1 1948, and chose what it deemed to be the politically safe middle ground between a minor announcement by a military governor and a major proclamation by the Prime Minister: the Defense Minister decreed that in order to maintain normal civilian life in Jerusalem, the laws of the State of Israel would apply to any territory controlled by his forces. (Now, it just so happened that the Defense Minister shared his name and his mane of white hair with Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.)

And thus, 1,878 years after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, Jews once again applied their laws to (part of) Jerusalem.

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