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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Benjamin Netanyahu UN General Assembly
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly.
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The United Nations and Jerusalem

October 22, 2007  |  Eli E. Hertz

Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have limited influence on the future of Jerusalem.

Judge, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, a former judge ad hoc on the bench of the International Court of Justice and a renowned and respected scholar of international law at Cambridge University, explained in 1968:

"The General Assembly has no power of disposition over Jerusalem and no right to lay down regulations for the Holy Places. The Security Council, of course, retains its powers under Chapter VII of the Charter in relation to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression, but these powers do not extend to the adoption of any general position regarding the future of Jerusalem and the Holy Places."

Originally, internationalization of Jerusalem was part of a much broader proposal that the Arab states rejected - both at the UN and 'on the ground,' by:

"a rejection underlined by armed invasion of Palestine by the forces of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia ... aimed at destroying Israel."

The outcome of consistent Arab aggression was best described by Professor, Judge Schwebel, past President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

"As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem." [italics by author]

Arab leaders point to UN Resolution 242 as a basis for their claim to Jerusalem. Resolution 242 was adopted after the 1967 War, when Israel captured territory from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, after they attacked Israel. However, the resolution never mentions Jerusalem, nor does UN Resolution 242 call for a full withdrawal from territory captured but merely a withdrawal to "secure and recognized boundaries" that are to be negotiated by the parties concerned. Arab Palestinians were not a party to the resolution.

Arthur Goldberg, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN (in 1967) who helped draft the resolution, testified in regard to the omission of Jerusalem from Resolution 242:

"I never described Jerusalem as occupied territory. Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem and this omission was deliberate."

In conclusion of the role the UN and international law may play in determining the future of Jerusalem, one may again quote Judge Lauterpacht:

"(i) Israel's governmental measures in relation to Jerusalem - both New and Old - are lawful and valid [E.H. Unifying the City of Peace]

"(ii) The future regulation of the Holy Places is a matter to be determined quite separately from the political administration of Jerusalem. Territorial internationalization of Jerusalem is dead - but the possibility of functional internationalization is not. The latter means, in effect, the recognition of the universal interest in the Holy Places situated in Jerusalem and the adoption of links between Israel and the world community to give formal expression to that interest."

Click here to read the entire chapter and notes for Jerusalem


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