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What is the legal status of the city of Jerusalem?

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What is the legal status of the city of Jerusalem?


In this edition of U-talk our question is from Lesley in London. She asked: “Holy city to the three major monotheist religions Jerusalem is considered by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital. What is the legal status of the city of Jerusalem today?”

Sébastien Boussois is a Ph.D in political science and scientific advisor at Brussels’ MEDEA Institute. He answered: “As you pointed out the fact that Jerusalem is holy city to three major monotheists does not help to solve the political issue, because Jerusalem is a city which unfortunately has no status. It can’t be listed by Unesco for instance.

“The status of Jerusalem was supposed to be settled by international law – the 1947 United Nations resolution on the Partition Plan for Palestine. But the UN resolution was not respected by any of the two parts, that is the Israelis and Palestinians.

“The Partition Plan recommended the creation of a Jewish State and a Palestinian State. It also provided for an international regime for the city of Jerusalem and dealt with the holy places.

“Jerusalem has been occupied since 1947 and since 1967 when the Israelis regained the part of the old city that had been taken by force by the Jordanians.

“Since 1967 we have had a city that is considered by Israelis to be the ‘reunified capital of the State of Israel’. In 1980 the Knesset – the Israeli parliament – passed a law to that effect. But this status is not recognised by the international community. Today there are no embassies in Jerusalem, they all are in Tel Aviv.

“The fact that Israelis made Jerusalem their reunified capital, the fact that they ask the Palestinians to recognise Jerusalem as such, and ask them to give up their idea to make Al Quds (Jerusalem’s Arabic name) their own capital has led to a political deadlock, I’d even say a sociological and geopolitical deadlock.

“The dispute will only be solved by a global agreement and that particular agreement will have to be different from the Oslo Accords in the sense that those Accords have contributed to postponing the settlement of that crucial dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

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