USA - What Country Is Jerusalem In?

Arno Froese

“What country is Jerusalem in?” Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs David Satterfield at a press briefing in Washington.

To Israelis, his question might be akin to asking if the sky was blue. But Lee was not being facetious.

It was only one day after President Donald Trump’s dramatic announcement that the US Embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Still, Satterfield did not respond to Lee with the simple one word answer: Israel.

Instead he explained, “The president [on December 6] recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.”

Lee pressed on, asking if the US “officially recognized” that Jerusalem was part of Israel.

Satterfield clarified during the briefing that Trump’s statement did not mean that US policy had shifted with regard to Israeli sovereignty over the city.

“We are not changing or taking a position on the boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Satterfield said.

His careful answer spoke to a 70-year diplomatic dance that the US and the larger international community has been doing with Israel with regard to the status of Jerusalem.

At issue is not the 50-year old question, asked since the Six Day War, of a united Jerusalem in Israeli hands or a divided city, with west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a future Palestinian one in east Jerusalem.

World leaders and dignitaries have been more vague and polite. For decades they have visited Jerusalem, shaking hands with its prime ministers and presidents.

No fewer than three former US presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George Bush—have addressed the Knesset. Former US president Barack Obama delivered a eulogy for his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, at the city’s Mount Herzl Cemetery.

But on a policy level, since 1947, the international community has questioned Israeli sovereignty over the western section of the city.

The international community has still withheld formal recognition of any Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Ambassadors from five countries—Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Italy—told reporters they rejected Trump’s declaration.

“The status of Jerusalem,” they said, “must be determined through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, leading to a final-status agreement.”

But when it came to east Jerusalem, they stated, “We consider east Jerusalem as part of the occupied Palestinian territories.”

This spring, Russia took the dramatic step of recognizing west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, becoming the first country to do so.

The Czech Republic followed the US’s lead and did so.

But neither envision moving their embassies to Jerusalem.

Until now, there was no State Department or White House recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Under the Obama administration, the US more bluntly stated that Jerusalem was not in Israel.

Trump’s statement, while it failed to recognize a united Jerusalem, marks the first time a US president has acknowledged what Ben-Gurion stated so long ago: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital., 12 December 2017

Arno's commentary

No country or government in the world has recognized the Jewish people’s right to the Promised Land as outlined in Holy Scripture. Jerusalem is certainly the sticking point. That fact alone gives Christians, who believe in Holy Scripture, the rock-like assurance that Jerusalem indeed is Jewish. Not for the world, though, for the prophet Zechariah declares: “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:3).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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