Op-Ed: Romney: "Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel"
Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
In the last week, spokespersons for the State Department and for Obama were pressed on the issue of Jerusalem. Not only were they unwilling to say the Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, they were not prepared to acknowledge that the western section of Jerusalem, which Israel conquered in the ’48 War and which lies to the west of the armistice lines, was even in Israel.
By acknowledging he was in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, Romney stepped on a hornet’s nest.
The response from Camp Obama was immediate.
"Some people are scratching their heads a bit" over Romney's remarks, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, noting that the Republican candidate is defying a position "that’s been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. So if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he’s also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan."
And what exactly is that position? Obviously that Jerusalem, all of it, is not in Israel.
Why so? Israel has exercised sovereignty over western Jerusalem since ’48 and over all of Jerusalem since ’67.
At the insistence of Jordan, the  Armistice Agreement provided that such line would not and did not constitute “borders”. Borders had to be agreed upon in the future.
The position of the US is based in part on Res 181 of the UNGA, (The Partition Plan), which was passed in 1947. The resolution recommended the creation of two states, one Arab, one Jewish, both excluding Jerusalem, which was to be a corpus separatum:
“The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The Trusteeship Council shall be designated to discharge the responsibilities of the Administering Authority on behalf of the United Nations.”
This corpus separatum was to remain for up to 10 years.
“After the expiration of this period the whole scheme shall be subject to examination by the Trusteeship Council in the light of experience acquired with its functioning. The residents of the City shall be then free to express by means of a referendum their wishes as to possible modifications of regime of the City.”
But for this clause, Ben Gurion wouldn’t have accepted the resolution. He knew that in ten years, the Jews would be in the majority in Jerusalem and that they would vote to have Jerusalem join Israel. Pursuant to this resolution, Israel declared its independence six months later.
The Arabs, on the other hand, rejected this resolution and invaded Israel, only to be pushed back, as Israel, fighting for her life, acquired more territory including the western part of Jerusalem.
The United Nations, led by the US, intervened before Israel could acquire even more territory and forced Israel to accept a ceasefire, and a ceasefire line, which the defeated Arabs, including Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, were only too happy to accept. This line became known as the “green line” as it was demarcated in green on the map. At the insistence of Jordan, the Armistice Agreement provided that such line would not and did not constitute “borders”. Borders had to be agreed upon in the future.
The US first tried to prevent Israel from declaring independence and then in the ceasefire negotiations, tried to force Israel to retreat to the Partition lines, to no avail. Ben Gurion steadfastly refused.
From then to the present, it has been US policy, not to allow Israel to win a war with the Arabs decisively or if she did, to force Israel to retreat to her position before the war.
The one exception to this was UNSC Res 242 which was passed after Israel’s resounding victory in the ’67 War. This resolution didn’t require Israel to retreat from all lands conquered, but permitted Israel to remain in occupation until she had an agreement for “secure and recognized boundaries”. No mention was made of Jerusalem.
But thereafter, successive US administrations have forced Israel to include it as a final status issue, notwithstanding that it was supposed to have been dealt with by referendum. Little, did PM Shamir, who first accepted it as such, dream that by doing so, the western part of Jerusalem, which had been Israel's capitol for the preceding 30 years, would no longer be considered in Israel.
Obama has attempted to get Israel to accept the green line, otherwise known as the ’67 lines, as the boundary subject to mutually agreed swaps of land.
From the perspective of the all recent administrations then, Jerusalem is not part of Israel until such time as its status is negotiated. They have even gone so far as to not register Israel as the country of birth for US citizens born in Jerusalem.
If there isn’t to be a referendum, then there is no corpus separatum and that part of Jerusalem that lies west of the green line should rightly be treated no differently than any part of the land west of the green line, namely as part of Israel.
Similarly, all land lying to the east of the green line is not considered part of Israel by the international community until borders are agreed upon. That is why the US forbids settlement construction there by Jews. Inconsistently, it allows settlement construction by the Arabs on these lands. It doesn’t seem to bother the State Department that the same reasoning applies to the Arabs.
Until such time as the land is divided by agreement, it is nobody’s land and shouldn’t be built upon. Nor should the US operate a consulate in the eastern part of Jerusalem, which it does, until such time as there is an agreement on Jerusalem.
So, along comes Romney and says otherwise. Is he simply making a statement to show solidarity with Israel or is he intending to reverse the US position should he become President? Of necessity then, he would have no excuse not to move the US embassy to the western part of Jerusalem where the Knesset and most government offices are.
Or would he continue in the paths of other presidents, in not moving the embassy to Jerusalem because the timing was not right or some other excuse. Without such a move, his declaration is meaningless. Considering his many foreign policy advisors, who are on the right, I believe he knew what he was doing.
Noah Pollack wrote in the Weekly Standard:
“The controversy has real substance, and Romney’s position has implications far beyond the status of Jerusalem: It is a pledge to stop subordinating American policy and conforming America's treatment of her allies to the desires of the “international community.” No more "engagement" for engagement's sake, which under Obama, like Jimmy Carter before him, is often bad news for Israel."
I hope he is right.