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Ben-Gurion’s Speech Before the Knesset on Dec. 13, 1949


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On Dec. 13, 1949, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, before the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), reiterated his position on Jerusalem:

“Mr. Speaker, distinguished Knesset, a week ago I made a statement here on behalf of the Cabinet regarding Jerusalem. Our statement is still in effect; no change has been or will be made in our attitude.

As you know, the U.N. Assembly has meanwhile decided, by a large majority, to place Jerusalem under international rule as a separate body. This resolution cannot be implemented, if only because of the firm opposition of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It is to be hoped that the U.N. will correct the mistake the majority has made this time and will refrain from trying to impose government on Jerusalem.

We respect the desire of countries interested in freedom of worship and free access to the holy places, and which seek to assure existing rights in this respect in Jerusalem. Our undertaking to preserve these rights is still in effect, and we will adhere to it gladly, although we cannot support the enforced division of Jerusalem, which unjustifiably discriminates against the natural, historical right of the Jewish nation.

Ever since the Provisional Government was established our concern for the peace, security and economic welfare of Jerusalem was foremost among our activities. During the war, when Jerusalem was besieged, the Cabinet was obliged to sit temporarily in Tel Aviv. But Israel had and has only one capital–eternal Jerusalem. Thus it was three thousand years ago, and thus it will be–we believe–forever.

As soon as the fighting ended we began transferring Ministries to Jerusalem and making the arrangements necessary for a capital city–proper roads, technical and economic arrangements… When the First Knesset convened in Jerusalem on 14 February 1949…the necessary arrangements to enable it to function normally in the capital did not yet exist, and we had to hold the Knesset sittings temporarily in Tel Aviv. Now that the necessary arrangements have nearly been completed in Jerusalem there is no longer any reason why the Knesset should not move there, and we propose that you decide to do so.

Naturally, this does not alter any of the previous arrangements concerning the holy sites, which will be fully respected by the Government of Israel, or concerning its agreement for their effective supervision by the U.N., as this Government has stated at the U.N.”

Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs