Dear Mr. President,
It is with respect that I write to you today to express my deepest concerns over reports of your proposed visit to symbolic Palestinian Authority institutions in eastern Jerusalem during your forthcoming trip to Israel this month.
Firstly, I would like to extend my warmest welcome. We very much look forward to your visit and are honored to host you in Israel. It has been our greatest pleasure to welcome numerous presidents from the United States of America.
However, it is of concern to me and many others that your itinerary appears to deviate from the usual protocol and lists an unprecedented visit to key P.A. institutions in eastern Jerusalem, which is a first for a sitting U.S. president.
I would like to explain why could be seen as problematic:
An unusual visit to the aforementioned establishments in eastern Jerusalem by a U.S. president will be seen as an attempt to undermine Israel’s sovereignty over its own capital. It will symbolize support for the P.A. in their efforts to divide Jerusalem and their consistent claims that Israel has no historical or religious connection to the city. This visit would, in essence, negate previous administrations’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. We all know, however, that this negation will never prevail, because Jerusalem is, and always will be, the undivided capital of Israel.
Moreover, such a visit will affirm false hopes and narratives of the possibility of removing Jews from their capital and homeland. This, of course, will never happen. The affirmation will only serve to encourage the unwavering rejection of Israel by the P.A., which continues to refuse to accept the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.
Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish kingdom since the time of King David—for more than 3,000 years. We turn to face Jerusalem when we pray, we mention Jerusalem in our prayers and we remember Jerusalem in our religious ceremonies. Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish nation. It has been conquered and ruled by many nations from the Babylonians and the Romans to the Persians and the Turks. Yet the freedom to live and worship has only ever been a reality since the day Jerusalem was reunited and we will ensure it remains this way. Jerusalem today is the recognized, lawful and undivided capital of the State of Israel, the only Jewish state in the world.
Considering the fragile state of affairs in Israel and the Middle East, and recent heightened tensions, a visit to eastern Jerusalem will undoubtedly damage peace prospects rather than encourage them. I would therefore urge you, President Biden, to kindly refrain from this unprecedented visit to eastern Jerusalem.
We very much look forward to welcoming you soon.
Ambassador Danny Danon
Ambassador Danny Danon, chairman of World Likud, served as Israel’s 17th Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Minister of Science and Technology and Deputy Minister of Defense.