Friday, July 30, 2010

30 years ago: Israel declares sovereignty over all of Jerusalem

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

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 12:2-3

On July 30, 1980 the Israeli Knesset voted 69-15 to approve a bill affirming all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and rebuffing Arab claims to East Jerusalem. The legislation did not alter the city’s de facto status. Observers feared that the Israeli action would make it more difficult to resume the deadlocked negotiations between Israel and Egypt on the issue of self-rule for the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had suspended the talks on May 15 when it became clear to him for the first time that Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government was determined to push the bill on Jerusalem through the Knesset. As a gesture of goodwill by Mr. Sadat to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who had initiated the talks and who was campaigning for re-election in November, talks were resumed at the committee level on July 13.

The vote in the Knesset appeared to be a reaction to the United Nations General Assembly's approval on July 29 of an Arab-sponsored resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal from all of the occupied lands, including East Jerusalem, by November 15.

On August 3 Mr. Sadat sent a letter to Mr. Begin asking for at least a temporary delay in the talks on Palestinian autonomy until Mr. Begin responded to Mr. Sadat's protest of the Israeli legislation. Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali said that in his protest, Mr. Sadat had told Mr. Begin that Egypt "totally rejected" the law on Jerusalem, and urged Mr. Begin to repeat earlier statements that all issues, including Jerusalem, were negotiable. Mr. Begin's reply, which was made public on August 11, said that during his talks with Mr. Sadat he had never misrepresented Israel's claim to an undivided Jerusalem. Mr. Begin called Egypt's vote in favour of the July 29 UN resolution "a flagrant contradiction of the Camp David agreement." Citing Egypt's four suspensions of the autonomy talks, Mr. Begin urged an end to unilateral suspensions and a renewal of negotiations.

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