Last updated on: 1/28/2009 10:31:00 AM PST
Should Jerusalem Be the Undivided Capital of Israel?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The World Bank, in a Sep. 30, 1993 project available at its website and titled "Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace (Vol. 1 of 6): Overview," offered the following:

"The 1948 war led to partition of Jerusalem into the Eastern and Western parts. At the end of the 1967 War, East Jerusalem was occupied by Israeli forces. Following the occupation, the Jerusalem city limits were expanded by Israel to include some surrounding areas from the West Bank. The expanded city was annexed by Israel on July 30, 1980. Arab residents of Jerusalem have been given the option of obtaining Israeli citizenship although very few have chosen to do so. Israel views Jerusalem as its historic capital and maintains that Jerusalem must never again be a divided city.

Actions taken by Israel were considered invalid by the United Nations, which called upon Israel to refrain from taking any action that would alter the status of Jerusalem. Although the international community has not recognized the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel continues to exercise authority over the area and considers it an integral part of Israel and not subject to further negotiations. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank as per the pre-1967 borders and that Israel should withdraw from all areas occupied during the 1967 war as per the United Nations resolutions."

Sep. 30, 1993 - World Bank 

Salim Tamari, PhD, Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies in Jerusalem, in a June 6, 2000 article titled "June 6: Jerusalem’s Future: Sovereignty, Administration, and Property Claims," available at the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development website, wrote:

"The final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization over the future of Jerusalem raise two kinds of claims. The first addresses the future constitutional arrangement between the two parties and the rights of their respective residents in the city. The second addresses historical claims to properties and residences seized or abandoned during the wars of 1948 and 1967... The main issues include sovereignty (who will control the city), access (who has the right to visit the city), residency (who has the right to live in the city), and scope (what constitutes the limits of the city). While both parties agree that Jerusalem should remain an open and undivided city, the Israeli government insists that Jerusalem remain under Israeli sovereignty while the Palestinians insist that it become the shared capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

At stake are: The fate of Jewish colonial settlements established inside the city boundaries after the Arab sector was annexed following the 1967 war; The ending of the current Israeli blockade of the city, which excludes entry to the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza as well as denies their right to residency in the city; The fate of some 200,000 Arab residents of the city (about one-third of the total population) who are de facto residents of the city but do not have the civil and political rights of the Israeli citizens; The future right of planning, zoning, and the provision of services for the occupied sector of the city currently exercised by the Israeli (Jewish) municipality on behalf of its Arab residents."

June 6, 2000 - Salim Tamari, PhD 

PRO (yes)

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), in its "Jerusalem" website section in a Mar. 14, 1999 presentation titled "The Status of Jerusalem," offered the following:

"There has always been a national consensus in Israel on the status of Jerusalem. Since the reunification of the city in 1967, all Israeli Governments have declared their policy that united Jerusalem, Israel's eternal capital is one indivisible city under Israeli sovereignty... Jerusalem is and has always been an undivided city, except for this 19 year period [1948-1967]. There is no justification for this short period to be viewed as a factor in determining the future of the city, and to negate 3,000 years of unity... [A]ccording to the Israel-Palestinian Declaration of Principles of 1993 - the basis of the present negotiations - political institutions of the Palestinian self-governing authority are not to operate in the city... the Israeli government has consistently reiterated its position that while religious and cultural rights of all the city's communities must be guaranteed -- Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of the State of Israel, undivided, under exclusive Israeli sovereignty."

Mar. 14, 1999 - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Nathan Diament, JD, Director of Public Policy at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in a July 23, 2008 Jerusalem Post article titled "Don't Blame Jerusalem for Being Multi-cultural," wrote:

"Jerusalem is different. It is, and will remain, the capital of Israel... Those prepared to cede parts of Jerusalem... argue that Jerusalem, with its Arab residents, is Israel's soft underbelly... While Palestinians may never be happy with Israeli sovereignty over the city, they clearly prefer it to the Palestinian Authority, generally regarded as corrupt, feckless, and riddled by violence.

That speaks to the character of Jerusalem itself - a character which stands as a powerful argument against its re-division. No argument for Jerusalem's status as Israel's eternal and undivided capital is as compelling as its unique nature as a multi-ethnic, multi-faith hub. Muslims, Christians and Jews enjoy full religious freedom in Jerusalem... Those who wish to see Jerusalem remain an open city - never again divided by barbed wire and checkpoints - must recognize that will be the case only so long as Jerusalem remains governed by Israel."

July 23, 2008 - Nathan Diament, JD 

Barack H. Obama, JD, US Senator (D-IL) at the time of the quote, in an American Jewish Committee website section titled "Barack Obama Responses to AJC Questionnaire," accessed Oct. 29, 2008, stated:

"The United States cannot dictate the terms of a final status agreement. We should support the parties as they negotiate these difficult issues, but they will have to reach agreements that they can live with. In general terms, clearly Israel must emerge in a final status agreement with secure borders. Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided."

[Editor's note: In a  July 21, 2008 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, Mr. Obama was asked: "One area where you're outside the international consensus -- and certainly, perhaps, some others -- is the statement you made in a recent speech supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Now, why not support the Clinton plan, which envisions a divided Jerusalem the Arab half being the capital of a Palestinian state, the Jewish half being the capital of the Jewish state?"

Obama replied: "You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech (June 4, 2008 Annual AIPAC Policy Conference, Arlington, VA). And we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given... The point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent... I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final status issues. I think the Clinton formulation provides a starting point for discussions between the parties."]

Oct. 29, 2008 - Barack Obama, JD 

Matania Ginosar, PhD, former Lechi [Stern Gang] member, in an Aug. 2008 Jewish Magazine article titled "Divide Jerusalem?," wrote:

"[T]he US Administration is pushing to divide Jerusalem, the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their Capital, and some Israelis and Jews do not care if the Arab part of the city will be 'given' to the Palestinians. After all, they claim, Israel will have one quarter of a million less Arabs inside its borders...

Let's assume Jerusalem is divided, and the number of Israeli Arabs is thus reduced. Let's assume a new fence will separate them from the rest of Jerusalem. What about the remaining one million Israeli-Arabs? Since they are full citizens they can travel freely. Can this stop internal terrorism? I don't think so. It will remove an integral part of Jerusalem from Israeli control and allow terrorists free movement within this areas... Jerusalem should not be divided. Israel should not repeat the bad mistakes it made by vacating Lebanon and Gaza unilaterally."

Aug. 2008 - Matania Ginosar, DEnv 

Yossi Klein Halevi, MA, Senior Fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, in a Summer 2002 The National Interest book review titled "Wasserstein's Jerusalem," wrote:

"The problem, of course, is that most of us no longer believe that partitioning Jerusalem with Arafat's Palestinian Authority would lead to peace, only to dismemberment of the city. The one tangible achievement of Arafat's war for Jerusalem has been to convince the pragmatic Israeli center that under no circumstances should the Palestinian Authority be entrusted with governing any part of Israel's capital.

Even many on the Left... concede that, for now at least, there is no possibility of dividing Jerusalem, which would only further entwine Israelis and Palestinians... For the first time since the Oslo process began, the old Israeli consensus on united Jerusalem has re-emerged this time based not on historical or religious sentiment but on a combination of experience and fear..."

Summer 2002 - Yossi Klein Halevi, MA 

Debra Moore, blogger for "Exposing Liberal Lies," in her Nov. 16, 2008 blog entry titled "Obama's Plan to Divide Jerusalem," wrote the following:

"What many people do not recognize is that Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and it belongs to His people, the Jews... To Him, Jerusalem is the center of the universe. Any nation or any individual who messes with God’s city will have to deal with the Almighty God. He will not sit by idly while His holy city is given over to Muslims... I believe that it was God’s judgment for dividing Israel that caused Sharon to have a stroke... which led to his comatose state from which he has never recovered. The Bible says in Joel 3:2 that God will judge those who divide the land of Israel."

Nov. 16, 2008 - Debra Moore 

CON (no)

The Palestinian Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD), in a document titled "The Status of Jerusalem in International Law" (accessed Jan. 13, 2009), offered the following:

"The Palestinian position is that Jerusalem should be the capital of the State of Palestine. The Declaration of Independence adopted by the Palestine National Council in 1988 declared 'the establishment of the State of Palestine in the land of Palestine with its capital at Jerusalem.' In the Palestinian view, that claim necessarily involved an assertion of sovereignty over the City...

The claim of the Palestinians for Jerusalem to be the capital of the State of Palestine does not necessarily mean that Palestine has to have sovereignty over the whole of the City. It would be possible legally for the solutions that have been canvassed to resolve the Jerusalem problem, such as the internationalisation proposal in [UN] Resolution 181, a condominium, or a divided city with Israel and Palestine having sovereignty over their respective halves, to be implemented with Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State...

The fact that the Palestinian side has in the past been, and may in the future be, willing to accept a solution for the future of the City that does not involve full sovereignty, such as internationalisation, condominium, or a divided City, does not mean that the claim as such is weakened."

Jan. 13, 2009 - Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department (PLONAD) 

United Nations Resolution A/RES/63/30 adopted Nov. 26, 2008 by the UN General Assembly with 163 votes in favor to six against with six abstentions, stated the following:

"The General Assembly... determined that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purported to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular the so-called 'Basic Law' on Jerusalem and the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, were null and void and must be rescinded forthwith... [The General Assembly] reiterates its determination that any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever, and calls upon Israel to cease all such illegal and unilateral measures."

Nov. 26, 2008 - UN Resolution (A/36/L.36) (26 KB)  

Ha'aretz, Israel's largest daily newspaper, in a Sep. 12, 2008 Ha’aretz editorial titled "Everyone Will Divide Jerusalem," offered the following:

"Anyone who engages in real peace negotiations with the Palestinians will have to accept a division of Jerusalem; anyone who preaches its integrity and unity is simply deceiving the public. The separation fence, which snakes in and around some 170 kilometers of the 'united' city... reveals the stark truth: Jerusalem, regardless of the politicians' denials, is a divided city. When Israel agreed at the Madrid Conference, at Camp David, in the road map and at Annapolis to discuss all the core issues, it also agreed to discuss dividing Jerusalem...

The public consensus on dividing Jerusalem is greater than meets the eye. Some want to divide the city to preserve a Jewish majority in the capital, others so that it would be a better place to live. Some believe that without this partition, the conflict will never end... [W]hat everyone must understand is that core issues like the right of return and Jerusalem are inseparable elements of the negotiations, and no matter who is prime minister, Israel has already committed to discussing them. Jerusalem will in the end be the capital of two states... Even if years go by before a final accord is signed, it will look no different."

Sep. 12, 2008 - Ha'aretz 

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), an inter-governmental group of fifty-six Islamic states, in its Third Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit held in Mecca on Dec. 7-8, 2005, presented a communique titled "Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century, Solidarity in Action," with the following statement:

"Efforts should be made to regain the city of Al-Quds [Jerusalem], safeguard its Islamic and historical character, preserve and protect Al-Aqsa Mosque and other sacred sites, counter the judaization of the Holy City, support the Palestinian institutions in the city, and establish Al-Aqsa University in the city of Al-Quds... [S]afeguard the sacred city’s cultural and historic landmarks and Arab-Islamic identity, and strengthen the steadfastness of its population so that it may regain its character as a city of coexistence and tolerance and the capital of the State of Palestine."

Dec. 7-8, 2005 - Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) 

Haig Khatchadourian, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, in his 2000 book titled The Quest for Peace Between Israel and the Palestinians, wrote:

"From the Palestinian and my own personal point of view, East Jerusalem ought to become part - indeed, the capital- of the Palestinian state... However, recognizing Israel's insistence that East Jerusalem is 'nonnegotiable,' I endorsed in 1970 the 1947 UN General Assembly's resolution to internationalize it. That - and Israel's insistence that Jerusalem is eternally Israeli - remains the Israelis' unshakable position. Nevertheless, it is my hope that Israel may eventually agree to relinquishing East Jerusalem to Palestinian rule, provided that (a) a political and administrative formula can be worked out whereby Jerusalem would remain undivided; so that, among other things, the city would remain open to all religions, but (b) also allow East Jerusalem to become the capital of the Palestinian state; in the same way that West Jerusalem is Israel's capital."

[Editor's note: In a Jan. 27, 2009 email response to, Dr. Khatchadourian elaborated his views on the control of Jerusalem as follows: "In an article ['Der Status von Ost-Jerusalem,' in the book Deutschland, Israel, Palastina (2005)] I reiterated and expanded on the dual sovereignty plan I proposed in my book, The Quest for Peace Between Israel and the Palestinians. On that plan (1) Israel would have sovereignty over the Jewish part of East Jerusalem; (2) The Palestinian state would have sovereignty over the remaining Christian and Muslim Quarters--and if the Jerusalem community opts for it, the Armenian Quarter as well. (3) For this arrangement to work, which would include free movement of Palestinians and Israelis in East Jerusalem, it would be necessary to have, among other things, certain arrangements (discussed in the article) to establish 'an effective border control between Israel and the West-Bank Palestinian entity.'"]

2000 - Haig Khatchadourian, PhD 

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic of France, in a June 23, 2008 speech to the Knesset, available in English at, stated:

"There can’t be peace, even though I know how painful this is, without recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of two States and guaranteed freedom of access to the Holy Places for all the religions. There can’t be peace without a border negotiated on the basis of the 1967 agreement and exchanges of territory making it possible to build two viable States."

June 23, 2008 - Nicolas Sarkozy