The Old City of Jerusalem and eastern Jerusalem, where Britain’s Prince William is set to visit in the coming days, are about as much a part of the Palestinian Authority as India is still the British Raj.
But this is no matter to the Brits, who continue to cling to the false claim that eastern Jerusalem is “occupied territory.” The United Kingdom continues to deny not only reality and Israel’s historic and religious right to Jerusalem in its entirety, but the fact that Jerusalem has had a majority Jewish population for the past 150 years.
It was only a few days ago that attorney Dr. Shmuel Berkowitz’s research on the legal status of Jerusalem in international and Israeli law was placed on the desk of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Berkowitz’s findings reinforce what has already been noted by such distinguished jurists as Yehuda Blum and Stephen Schwebel: Jerusalem is not occupied territory.
Jordan, which conquered east Jerusalem in 1948 in violation of the United Nations’ 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine, may have held onto the territory until 1967, but no country outside of Pakistan recognized its sovereignty there. Moreover, Israel exercised its right to self-defense against Jordan and other Arab states that attacked it in both May 1947 and June 1967. International law recognizes this right as legal grounds for the use of military force and the capture of territory, certainly from those who are themselves considered occupiers and whose rule is not recognized by the international community.
Beyond international law, on which Britain ostensibly relies when it refers to eastern Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian territory,” someone needs to respectfully give Prince William a lesson on the history of the city: In a nutshell, Islam, which demands Jerusalem and its holy sites, only showed up on the scene some 2,000 years after the people of Israel became a nation. The Palestinians, who demand eastern Jerusalem and the Old City as their future capital, only began to define themselves as a nation in the last century.
These “minor” differences, along with the fact that Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish people and Jewish consciousness and was never of similar importance to any kind of Arab or Islamic kingdom or state, are worth noting.
Nadav Shragai is a veteran Israeli journalist.