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DOCUMENTS ON JERUSALEM - Volumes: I, II, III & IV
To study Palestinian history in depth requires a familiarity with certain documents that have had an impact upon the unfolding history of the Palestinian cause. The academic responsibility of any researcher necessitates constant referral to different sources of information and a willingness to understand, observe, and analyze facts within the given historical context, both as historical events and as part of a certain political environment, as well as in relation to the different channels of thinking that governed a particular historical moment.
In yet another attempt to facilitate this task, PASSIA undertook a project in the years 1996-97 consisting of the compilation of documents, statements, and other resources pertaining to the Palestine Question in general and the issue of Jerusalem in particular with the intention of providing researchers and anyone else with an interest in the subject matter with a comprehensive resource work on the evolution and course of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from pre-Ottoman times until the present. The outcome was a volume of documents on Jerusalem and two on Palestine containing the full or partial texts (relevant excerpts) of several hundred statements, documents, and resolutions displaying the attitudes, positions, and proposals associated throughout history with various key players, mediators, and international bodies.
Since all three volumes mentioned above had been out of print for some time due to the great demand for each, PASSIA, in 2006, embarked on a new project, the purpose of which was to research, edit, and publish amended and updated versions of this valuable series of documents.
It was decided, whilst compiling and organizing the huge number of relevant texts to tackle the Jerusalem issue separately due to its special standing within the wider Palestine-Israel conflict. The many proposals put forward over the years in a bid to find a solution to the Palestine Question all recognized the need to pay special attention to Jerusalem be it because of the city’s unique status as the historic site of the Holy Places of the three great monotheistic religions, its symbolic nature, or its significance in terms of the national identity of the peoples of the region.
The Documents on Jerusalem are arranged by source of origin (e.g., Jewish, Christian, Muslim, European, US, Palestinian, Israeli, Arab, UN, etc.) and, within each sub-category, in chronological order.
The four volumes on Jerusalem list the full texts or extracts relating to the issue of Jerusalem of numerous statements, documents, and resolutions mirroring the different attitudes towards Jerusalem as they have evolved throughout history. They are organized as follows:
Part I: Documents with a Religious Background
Part II: Political Documents
Each volume includes an electronic version (CD) of the texts it contains, the purpose of which is to facilitate the search for certain sources, subjects, and documents, as well as an annex listing the entries found in other three volumes.
Although we have endeavored to make this publication as reader/user friendly as possible, one should be aware that there is some inconsistency in terms of the spelling of non-English words - names and places (such as Haram Ash-Sharif or Intifada) – since we adhered, wherever possible, to the original version rather than apply our usual spelling rules. It is for the same reason that the volumes contain a number of minor typographical errors such as the omission of apostrophes, inconsistent capitalization, and spelling mistakes found in the originals.
Footnotes included in the volumes - excluding those marked “the ed.” - are mostly those that appeared in the original texts though the readership note that the numbering will not necessarily be accordance with the original version.
A Final Note
We have done our utmost to uphold our commitment to objectivity and comprehensiveness and thus hope to be excused for entries we may have missed as well as for any other mistakes relating to the production of these volumes.
Passiahopes that the Documents on Jerusalem will serve as a valuable resource of a scope and comprehensiveness that has never before been available in such a form and that this will be of enormous benefit to anyone interested in tracing the events and various stages relating to the issue of Jerusalem.
Finally yet importantly, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the entire PASSIA team whose invaluable efforts and teamwork have contributed to the realization of this project.
Special thanks also go to the Representative Office of Finland, Ramallah, for the kind support that made the printing and binding of this publication possible.
Volume I presented here looks into the religious claims of the three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - to Jerusalem, all of which relate to different places in the city and all of which are therefore both significant and unique. There is no question that the holiness of Jerusalem complicates any attempt to solve the Jerusalem question and that this holiness is often used or manipulated in order to reach non-religious goals. The fact that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike and the meaning of this religious attachment to the city have always been and will continue to be of major importance. Today, however, it is the geopolitical controversy that has become the dominant factor, forcing religious, historical, and ideological arguments into the background.
Also included in Volume I are statements, positions, decisions, and declarations originating from European, US, and other international sources as well as bilateral agreements and understandings reached between two or more parties to the conflict.
Without exception, the European states as well as the EU consider International Law applicable to Jerusalem and consequently believe that its status has yet to be resolved. They therefore reject the application of Israeli Law in East Jerusalem and support UN Resolutions 242 and 338, both of which call for Israel’s withdrawal from all areas occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. In addition, not one of the European states recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is the reason why all European embassies are located in Tel Aviv and not in the Holy City.
According to official US policy East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and not of Israel and the status of Jerusalem, as yet unresolved, should be settled through negotiations. Accordingly, subsequent US administrations have repeatedly stated that no party should make unilateral attempts to change the status of the city, including by resorting to the creation of new settlements there.
However, the US position towards Jerusalem has been inconsistent and apart from establishing and maintaining its embassy in Tel Aviv, the US has yet to take any concrete measures that are in accordance with official US policy. It also considers to release funds for Israel, which have been used, amongst other things, for settlement activity, including in Jerusalem. The US administration's position on the various issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is subject to change at any moment - but always in the best interest of Israel.
In 1947, the US supported the Partition Plan only until it became clear that the parties directly involved - Jordan and Israel - rejected it. In 1949, the US adopted an approach that foresaw Jerusalem as an undivided city with autonomous Arab and Jewish zones under an international UN commission. In accordance with International Law, the US boycotted throughout the 1950s and 1960s events such as the military parades on Israel's Independence Day in Jerusalem and the opening of the new parliament building on confiscated Arab land in West Jerusalem. After 1967, the US continued to maintain its position that the status of Jerusalem should not be changed unilaterally and should be resolved through negotiation. In this context, it is worth noting that the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which was established during Ottoman times, continues to function independently of the Embassy in Tel Aviv.
However, the official US position has repeatedly been contradicted by US votes at the UN, where the US - as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council that are entitled to veto a resolution - frequently votes against resolutions on Jerusalem and Palestine. Furthermore, since the late 1960s, the US Congress has become increasingly involved in discussions on Jerusalem's future and has even introduced resolutions of its own, including those congratulating Israel on Jerusalem's "unification" and recognizing the city as the capital of Israel. Moreover, today, Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem are no longer declared "illegal" but only "complicating factors" in terms of the peace negotiations. In addition, the US Congress has recently stepped up a campaign to have the US Embassy in Tel Aviv transferred to Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Position on Jerusalem
Jerusalem has historically been part of Palestine and the Palestinian heritage is deeply rooted there. The city is directly related to the history, land, and people of Palestine, to their Moslem and Christian beliefs, and to their holy places. Both Muslim and Christian Palestinians attach great importance to Jerusalem, not only as a holy city, but also as the political, geographical, economic, and cultural center of Palestine. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, Jerusalem is theirs. It is the capital of the Palestinian people and thousands have sacrificed their lives in its defense. As well as being the symbol of the Palestinian nationality and identity, it is also the symbol of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
British policy during the Mandate period, which undertook to establish a ‘national home’ for the Jews, represented the first steps leading to the denial of equal rights for the Palestinians. Jerusalem thus became and remained the center of the national struggle of the Palestinian people, who made every effort to defend their city against the Zionist and British invasion.
Palestinians have always rejected proposals that deny them their rights vis-à-vis Jerusalem. As a result of the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and the events that followed the War of 1948, when Jewish forces occupied and rampaged through Palestinian villages and urban neighborhoods located in what is today known as West Jerusalem (such as Lifta, Khallat At-Tarha, Deir Yassin, Ein Kerem, Al-Malha, Talbiya, Qatamon Al-Baq'ah, the Mamilla Quarter, Abu Tor, and the Musrara Quarter), the State of Israel was established and West Jerusalem was illegally and unilaterally declared Israel's ‘eternal capital.’
At no time in history - including during the War of 1967 when East Jerusalem was occupied by Israeli forces and when many of its Arab inhabitants were evicted and their property seized or demolished, and including when East Jerusalem was annexed and subjected to Israeli Law - did the Palestinians accept Israeli-claimed sovereignty over the city. Instead, they resisted, by means such as stressing its illegitimacy, not joining the West Jerusalem Municipality, and preserving the Arab character of the eastern part of the city. The dynamics of Palestinian resistance against Israeli policies and practices in the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the attempts to ‘Judaize’ its nature, have been continuous ever since.
The chapters of Palestinian resistance in Jerusalem can be traced back to the very beginning of its occupation in June 1967. Sheikh Abdel Hamid As-Sayeh, the head of the Shari’a Court of Appeal, issued an Islamic fatwa that stated a clear position of refusing to be governed by Jewish/Israeli Law. The Islamic Higher Council formed the first National Guidance Committee, which included notables and activists such as Anwar Khatib, Anwar Nusseibeh, Fuad Abdul Hadi, Aref Al-Aref, Ibrahim Tlil, and many others, all of whom contributed to the attempts to keep the Islamic holy places, the Waqf as well as Islamic courts and institutions free of Israeli interference. Moreover, although the Arab Municipality in Arab East Jerusalem was dissolved and abolished by Israeli forces, while its infrastructure was annexed to the Israeli Municipality in West Jerusalem following the War of 1967, key Palestinian institutions remained and continued to function, including medical centers and hospitals, societies, tourist offices, intra-city transportation networks, land registration offices, as well as centers and forums providing scientific, cultural, and educational research, information, and services.
In 1988, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) declared the Independent Palestinian State and proclaimed Jerusalem – Al-Quds Ash-Sharif – its capital. Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian people and their future state. It is the center of Palestinian Arab sovereignty and the heart of the Palestinian struggle. Since Jerusalem lies in the north-south crescent of the West Bank, the integrity of the Occupied Territories cannot be maintained without Jerusalem. Israel’s settlement and expansion policies and the ongoing construction of the ‘separation barrier’ in the West Bank and around Jerusalem are thus considered fatal not only in terms of the future of Palestinian Jerusalem’s development but also with regard to the two-state solution and the various attempts to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a peaceful conclusion.
The historical justification on which Israel builds its claim to the land of Palestine and Jerusalem goes back to the so-called ‘Jewish exodus’ some 4,000 years ago, when the Jews came to Palestine and settled there temporarily. In addition, Israel argues that in around 1000 BC, Jerusalem was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Judah and the site of the Jewish Temple.
Following the end of the British Mandate and the War of 1948, Israel controlled the western part of the city while Jordan exercised sovereignty over the eastern part, including the Old City. On 14 May 1948, Israel declared the State of Israel and the next day, following the withdrawal of the British mandatory forces, it began to seize Arab-owned land in West Jerusalem, an area that was designated by the UN as part of the corpus separatum. That was the first Israeli move towards violating UN resolutions and subsequent recommendations on UN intentions to internationalize the city. Israel's reaction to these plans was to go ahead with transferring its governmental departments from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On 23 January 1950, the Knesset moved to the city and the Israeli Government proclaimed that Jerusalem was "once again" the capital of Israel. When, in the winter of 1949/50, the Trusteeship Council approved the final status foreseen for Jerusalem, the Israelis informed the Council's chairman that they were not pleased with the proposed status but would agree to some form of functional internationalization of the Holy Places (almost all of which were in the then Jordanian sector anyway).
When Israel, in the course of the War of 1967, occupied Arab East Jerusalem and subsequently announced the "unification" of the city, a modern myth was born. Ever since then, Israel has tried to forcibly turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city through the illegal annexation of the eastern part of the city and the application of Israeli Law and jurisdiction over the entire city, while leaving the eastern part to become a marginalized area. Since 1967, more than one third of the land in East Jerusalem has been illegally expropriated by the Israeli Government while neighboring Arab villages have been divided or encircled by Israeli settlements.
In 1980, the Knesset passed the so-called ‘Basic Law’ or ‘Jerusalem Law’ proclaiming Jerusalem as "indivisible" and the "eternal capital city of Israel." Until today, Israel attempts to secure its sovereignty with numerical superiority through continued settlement activity and encouraging Jews to settle in the Arab part of the city, all the while ignoring the fact that all physical, demographic, and other alterations in occupied Jerusalem are illegal according to International Law and UN decisions.
Jerusalem's Arab roots go back 5,000 years to the time when the city of Arab Yabous (Jerusalem) was founded. As Islam has dominated the culture of the Middle East for the last 1,400 years, it has dominated that of Jerusalem. The historic city of Jerusalem with its Arab culture, heritage, and architecture possesses many significant monuments and sacred shrines and it has been agreed that there is an urgent need to preserve these sites, as well as Jerusalem as a whole. Since Jerusalem was under Muslim rule for centuries and there has been a continuous and uninterrupted Arab presence there, the city has a significant meaning to the Arab World in general. The Islamic approach to the city in particular determines the Arab Muslim states’ concern for the fate of Jerusalem and their refusal to accept or recognize Jewish rule. For the Muslim World, Israel's historical justification of its claim to Jerusalem lacks any fundamental validity, not least of all because Jerusalem was under Jewish control for only a very short period when compared with the time it spent under Islamic rule. If historical claims provide justification for today's ‘sovereignty,’ the adherents of Islam have a far better claim than those of Christianity and Judaism. The city was governed by Arab-Islamic politics for 1,400 years and it was under Arab-Islamic rule throughout the centuries that the city's heritage, history, and culture were preserved. Islamic rule of the city always safeguarded Jerusalem's specific character and secured its propitious environment for all religious groups. During the entire period of the Ottoman Empire, for example, the millet (nation) system recognized the laws and religions of Christians and Jews.
Against this background, the Arab states and Muslims in general opposed the UN Partition Plan (Resolution 181) for Palestine, as well as the notion of the corpus separatum for Jerusalem, both of which they considered illegal and immoral). During the period of Hashemite rule (1948-67) in the city, the Jordanians refused to discuss any type of internationalization and went ahead with their plans to annex the West Bank, including the Old City (effective 24 April 1950). They did not proclaim Jerusalem as their capital or move their ministries there, but instead, declared it, in 1960, the Kingdom’s “second capital.” However, although work commenced on the construction of ‘King Hussein's Palace’ - the remains of which are still visible on the landscape of the Shu’fat neighborhood - the project was later abandoned.
The Arab League, meanwhile, rejected both the Israeli and Jordanian annexation of Jerusalem and has always demanded that the city should either return to the status quo ante, meaning the lines of 1948-1967 or be the subject of negotiations. In 1975, the Islamic Conference Organization formed a Jerusalem Committee, chaired by the late King Hassan of Morocco, which has since called for the liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli control and the return of Arab rule to the city.
There is nothing found under International Law or in international resolutions passed since the beginning of the 20th Century that legitimizes or justifies the Israeli takeover of Arab land in occupied East Jerusalem. Thus, under International Law, which prohibits the annexation of territory by force, East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory; Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem is therefore considered illegal and its unilateral activities in both parts of the city (such as land confiscation) null and void.
The UN itself has always recognized the special status of Jerusalem and the illegitimacy of its occupation. It considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory and it has repeatedly declared Israel's activities in this part of the city (such as the construction of settlements, the transfer of segments of the Israeli population, and annexation) illegal, null, and void. Moreover, in its numerous resolutions on the question of Palestine, the UN has always reaffirmed that Jerusalem is under belligerent occupation and it has been consistent in its demand that Israel withdraw from all territories it occupied in the course of the June War of 1967, including Jerusalem. Until today, the basic international legal status envisaged for Jerusalem in Resolution 181 remains valid since no other resolution has been passed to annul it.