Since 2006 there have been no foreign embassies in Jerusalem. This reflects the reluctance of the entire world that does have diplomatic relations with the Jewish State to recognize its ownership of Jerusalem. It is a unique phenomenon in world affairs. Not only do the nations of the world not accept Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, the international community also regards about half of it, eastern Jerusalem, including the entire Old City, as part of the “occupied Palestinian territories,” and no one officially recognizes western Jerusalem as part of the territory of Israel either.
Under the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1947, Jerusalem was going to be an international territory administered by the United Nations. In the 1948 war, the western part of the city was occupied by Israel, the eastern part by Jordan. And since the international community relies on the 1947 UN partition plan regarding the legal status of Jerusalem, it refuses to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city.
Israel, obviously, feels very differently about this matter: On December 5, 1949, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in July 1980 Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, as part of its constitutional Basic Laws, declaring Jerusalem the “complete and united” capital of Israel.
Jerusalem, which for the first 19 years of the state was a remote, unsafe (Jordanian snipers), small and joyless, was transformed after the 1967 liberation of the Old City and the holy sites, exactly 49 years ago Sunday. Today 10 percent of Israelis live in Jerusalem — 850,000, twice as many as live in Tel Aviv, three times as do in Haifa.
When King David conquered the city and purchased the top of Temple Mount, just under 3,000 years ago, the entire city area was probably about 60 hectares. Today it is about 2,000 times larger, with 125,156 hectares included in the Jerusalem municipality.
The first university in the Land of Israel, Hebrew University, was established in Jerusalem, in 1925. Today 17 percent of Israeli university students study there, and 26 percent of the Ph.D. candidates.
Many Israeli national institutions are located in the Government District in Givat Ram in Jerusalem, as a part of the National District. Some government buildings are located in the Menachem Begin District. The city is home to the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Bank of Israel, the National Headquarters of the Israel Police, the official residences of the President and Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and all ministries except for the Ministry of Defense (Tel Aviv) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Rishon LeZion).
And so it is clear that no other issue separates Israel from the rest of the world as radically as that of Jerusalem’s status. Most Israelis born after 1967 naturally view Jerusalem as their unquestionable capital. Left-wing Israelis who would agree to handing over some or all of eastern Jerusalem to a future independent Palestinian entity, are probably not aware of the fact that the world does not differentiate between eastern and western Jerusalem, and regards neither as naturally belonging to Israel, never mind recognizing them as its capital.