By Matthijs de Blois & Andrew Tucker, Report June 2018
The status of Jerusalem is one of the main legal issues in the debate on Israel and its relationship to the Palestinian Arabs. The Israeli position that Jerusalem ‘complete and united’ is the capital of Israel is fiercely criticized by both the Palestinian Arabs and what is commonly called ‘the international community’. Several countries are considering recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and locating their embassies or diplomatic offices to this city.
There are strong legal arguments for the position that Jerusalem as such is part and parcel of the territory of the sovereign State of Israel. These derive principally from the Mandate for Palestine and the principle of uti possidetis juris, pursuant to which Jerusalem became an integral part of the State of Israel in 1948. Jordan occupied and illegally purported to annex part of Jerusalem and the whole of the “West Bank”. Israel took control of these territories in a legitmate manner in June 1967, and since then Israel has, in a legitimate manner, asserted its sovereignty over the whole city of Jerusalem.
Israel, in our view, has the right that all sovereign states have to choose its capital. There is no valid reason to criticize the proclamation of Jerusalem as its capital. There is also no sound legal argument to deny any other state the right to locate its embassy in Jerusalem if both Israel and the sending state agree. What has been said also leads to the conclusion that the Temple Mount is within the sovereignty of Israel. It is a reason for serious concern if the strong connection between the Temple Mount and Judaism is denied. It is up to Israel itself to enter into arrangements as to the administration of its holy sites, as long as freedom of religion is respected.
Download the full report here