Jerusalem has, for the last several thousand years, been the holiest city in Jerusalem. Last week, Israelis celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day – the day in 1967 when the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem from Arab rule, reuniting the city and opening its holy places to all who wish to visit them.
For 45 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel. And yet the position of the United States government remains that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. That position was clarified in March 2012 by a State Department official, Victoria Nuland, who refused to say that Jerusalem was a part of Israel at all:
QUESTION: Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?
NULAND: You know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed …. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent-status issue. It’s got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.
QUESTION: Is it the view of the – of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy – the location of the US embassy?
NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.
This is asinine for several reasons. First, it is an on-the-ground fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Belfast may be a disputed city in Ireland, but nobody challenges the fact that it is the capital of Ireland. Denying that Jerusalem is a part of Israel is denying that Israel has any right to defend itself at all, or that even the portion of Jerusalem not liberated in 1967 is Jewish territory.