The move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem yesterday was a bold act of American leadership which corrected a gross historical injustice which left Israel as the only nation in the world effectively disallowed from choosing its own capital. It overturns a strange rejection of empirical reality that has long persisted even though Jerusalem has been the Jewish state’s capital since 1950, and the Knesset and other key buildings were built in the western part of the city that is undisputed.
At a time when there is a campaign underway by the Palestinians and their supporters to re-write history and deny all Jewish links to the city in resolutions of both UNESCO and the UN General Assembly, it is both common sense and basic decency for states to recognise that Jerusalem simply is and has been Israel’s capital, and act accordingly.
No serious peace plan has ever been proposed which would see Jerusalem cease to be Israel’s capital in future, and the argument that delaying recognition helped encourage Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations simply has not worked in practice. To the contrary, there is in fact every reason to hope that moving the Embassy will help provide a circuit-breaker to Palestinian expectations that time is on their side, which in turn could help jump-start a return to negotiations.
Moreover, as US President Trump made clear in announcing the move in December, there is nothing in the Embassy move that prevents a Palestinian state having a capital in east Jerusalem as part of a future negotiated two-state peace.
As other nations – from Russia, the Czech republic and Vanuatu, to Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay – follow the US example in recognising Israel’s long-standing capital, all other governments of good will, including Australia’s, should be asking themselves what is genuinely achieved by clinging to an outdated and unjust refusal to acknowledge the basic reality that Jerusalem has long been Israel’s capital and always will be.
Mr. Mark Leibler AC, National Chairman
Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM, Executive Director
For additional information, contact AIJAC on (03)-9681-6660.