During his visit to Israel last week, Prince William placed a prayer note between in the Western Wall’s ancient stones. He did not offer a prayer on the Temple Mount, which he perceives as Muslim-run. In other words, he is naturally drawn to the Jewish sanctity of Jerusalem.
Similarly, his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, a devout Christian who died in London in 1969, asked to be buried in Jerusalem – not because of the city’s supposed Muslim connections, but because of her strong Judeo-Christian orientation. (Israel recognizes the late princess as a Righteous Gentile for having hidden and saved three Jews during the Holocaust; Prince William met their descendants during his visit.)
And yet, despite this instinctive recognition that Jerusalem is Jewish, the prince was careful to remain “neutral” on anything related to the future of the Holy City during his trip. In addition, his country continues to refuse to recognize Jerusalem as purely Jewish.
Russia presents a similar study in contradictions. Though not officially Bible-believing, the country was a major bastion of Christianity for centuries. Yet, its official stance is that “we recognize West Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital city of the would-be Palestinian state.” (So said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to Israel’s public broadcasting corporation this week.)
Where is the simple truth that Jerusalem – all of it! – is exclusively Jewish?
We will never tire of repeating to the world that Jerusalem is Jewish – no matter how one looks at it. Historically, Jerusalem has been central to Judaism and the Jewish nation for some four millennia, ever since Avraham nearly sacrificed his son Yitzchak on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22; see also Nachmanides to Gen. 14,18).
A thousand years later, King David made it Israel’s capital (II Samuel 5) and, in between, the Torah charged us specifically regarding the “place that G-d will choose” (Deut. 12:18, 14:23; etc.), i.e., Jerusalem.
Ever since then, Jerusalem has been the center of our national and spiritual existence. We mention it frequently in our prayers, which we recite facing the direction of this holy city. We remember the destruction of its centerpiece, the Holy Temple, on special annual days of mourning, by leaving a portion of our homes unfinished and by smashing a glass at weddings, among other practices.
Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible approximately 650 times.By way of comparison, it is not mentioned even once in the Koran, and Muslims actually turn their backs on Jerusalem when they pray, facing Mecca instead.
Even in terms of contemporary politics and international law, Jerusalem is Jewish. In 1970, international law expert Stephen Schwebel, president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, wrote that “Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt.”
Similarly, Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the issue, has concluded: “Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law.”
His doctoral dissertation on the legal history of Jerusalem, based on an un-broken series of international treaties and resolutions over the course of the past century, demonstrates that the League of Nations and the United Nations gave the Jewish people title to the city of Jerusalem.
This process began at the famous San Remo Conference of April 1920, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I – Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – agreed to affirm the Balfour Declaration and create a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel. Significantly, they chose wording that granted the Arabs of the Holy Land individual rights but not rights of a national political nature.
When the League of Nations took over, it resolved to recognize “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” (The San Remo Resolutions were confirmed by all 51 members of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.)
Continuing the trend, when the United Nations succeeded the League in 1945, it assumed the latter’s commitments and obligations, though its Resolution 181 of 1947 made two major changes: It granted the Arabs political rights in western Palestine and also proposed, non-bindingly, a special international regime for Jerusalem. (This regime was to last for 10 years, at which time the residents of the city would vote on the future governance of the city.)
These arrangements, however, never took effect. The UN took no action when Jordan blatantly violated them by conquering eastern Jerusalem in 1948. Jordan even violated its Armistice Agreement with Israel by refusing to allow Jewish access to the Western Wall and desecrating and destroying Jewish holy sites.
In 1950, Israel proclaimed western Jerusalem as its capital and, after the 1967 Six-Day War, reunited the Holy City. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 authorized Israel to retain all its newly-liberated land until “secure and recognized boundaries” were attained. The resolution, which says nothing about Israel’s presence in and control of Jerusalem, has been the basis for all peace talks ever since.
Demographically as well, Jerusalem has long unquestioningly belonged to the Jewish People. The city has had a Jewish majority for over 150 years: In 1864, 15,000 people lived in Jerusalem, including 8,000 Jews and 4,500 Muslims. By 1914, the city was quite predominantly Jewish: 45,000 Jews and 20,000 others.
Even the late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, who signed the Oslo Accords for Israel, could not envision giving up Jerusalem. “If they told us that the price of peace is giving up on a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty,” he told a group of Tel Aviv schoolchildren shortly before he was killed, “I would respond, ‘Let’s do without peace.'”