On 26 July, a reporter asked White House spokesman Jay Carney what is the capital of Israel. He didn’t give a specifc answer. He instead said “our position on the capital of Israel hasn’t changed.” But, what is that position?
In 2008, then candidate Obama said that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel.” So, is that the position that hasn’t changed? The US embassy to Israel is in the city of Tel Aviv, if that is an indicator. And, if that is still the position, why didn’t Jay Carney say it?
If the definition of “capital” is “A town or city that is the official seat of government in a political entity, such as a state or nation” (law.com) then the capital of Israel is Jerusalem, and has been since 1949.
On the official website of Israel’s Knesset, the history of their nation’s capital is described:
“In the fall of 1949 the General Assembly of the United Nations began debating how to implement its decision of 29 November 1947 regarding the establishment of Jerusalem as a separate international entity under the auspices of the United Nations. The Soviet Union supported this proposal. On the eve of the debate, on 5 December 1949, the Prime Minister announced, in a Knesset session, that Jewish Jerusalem is an organic and inseparable part of the State of Israel. He added that Israel could not even conceive that the United Nations would attempt to tear Jerusalem from the State of Israel, especially considering what Jerusalem went through during Israel’s War of Liberation.
This announcement, however, made no impression on most of the members of the United Nations and they voted by a large majority to internationalize Jerusalem. On December 13 1949 Ben Gurion declared that Israel “would not permit the forced disconnection of Jerusalem from Israel”. He requested forthwith that the Knesset conduct its sessions in Jerusalem. Consequently, the Knesset decided that after Hanukah 1949 it would renew its sessions in Jerusalem. In the following months most of the government offices were moved to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel (http://bit.ly/bRzZID).
So, if the above definition of ‘capital’ is used, or if you asked Israel which city is their capital, the answer in both cases is Jerusalem.
As Israel’s first Prime Minister stated on 5 December, 1949, “The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold on to Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington” (http://bit.ly/bRzZID).