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Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem

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The Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, also known to Israelis as the Reunification of Jerusalem,[1][2][3] refers to the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War, and its subsequent annexation through the Jerusalem Law of 1980.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel was established on part of the former Mandatory Palestine territory, with the rest, known as the West Bank, controlled and annexed by Jordan. Jerusalem therefore was divided between Israel and Jordan, with the western part of Jerusalem lying under Israeli sovereignty and the eastern part under Jordanian control.[4] In 1950, Jordan annexed East Jerusalem as part of its larger annexation of the West Bank.

During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel militarily occupied the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and soon declared that Israeli law would be applied to East Jerusalem and enlarged its boundaries. In July 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law as part of the country's Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel, meaning the effective annexation of it.[5] The United Nations Security Council ruled the law "null and void" in United Nations Security Council Resolution 478.

In Israel, the reunification of Jerusalem is celebrated is commemorated in the Jerusalem Day, a national holiday that recurs annually on the date of 28 Iyar on the Hebrew calendar.


Jordan and an alliance of Arab states rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan under which Jerusalem was to be a corpus separatum, instead invading former Palestinian Mandate territory, and by the armistice in 1949 was in control of the Old City and East Jerusalem (excluding Mount Scopus). The Arab invading armies failed to take control over the rest of Israel, including West Jerusalem. The city was then divided along the 1949 Armistice Line. East Jerusalem was annexed to Jordan in 1950. The city remained divided until the Six-Day War in 1967.[6]

As part of the Jordanian campaign, on June 5, 1967, the Jordanian Army began shelling Israel.[7] When the Israeli cabinet convened to decide how to respond, Yigal Allon and Menahem Begin argued that this was an opportunity to take the Old City of Jerusalem, but Eshkol decided to defer any decision until Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin could be consulted.[8] During the late afternoon of June 5, the Israelis launched an offensive to encircle Jerusalem, which lasted into the following day. On June 7, heavy fighting ensued. Dayan had ordered his troops not to enter the Old City; however, upon hearing that the UN was about to declare a ceasefire, he changed his mind, and without cabinet clearance, decided to capture it.[8]

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin in the entrance to the old city of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, with Moshe Dayan and Uzi Narkiss.

De facto annexation

On 27 June 1967, Israel expanded the municipal boundaries of West Jerusalem so as to include approximately 70 km2 (27.0 sq mi) of West Bank territory today referred to as East Jerusalem, which included Jordanian East Jerusalem ( 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi) ) and 28 villages and areas of the Bethlehem and Beit Jala municipalities 64 km2 (25 sq mi).[9][10][11] On 30 July 1980, the Knesset officially approved the Jerusalem Law, which called the city the complete and united capital.[12]

Although it was claimed that the application of the Israeli law to East Jerusalem was not annexation,[13] this position was rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court. In a 1970 majority ruling, Justice Y. Kahan expressed the opinion ". . . As far as I am concerned, there is no need for any certificate from the Foreign Minister or from any administrative authority to determine that East Jerusalem. . . was annexed to the State of Israel and constitutes part of its territory. . . by means of these two enactments and consequently this area constitutes part of the territory of Israel."[14]

Impact of reunification

Under Jordanian rule no Jews were permitted to live in the city, which was governed as part of the Jordanian rule West Bank, and the Christian population plummeted, falling from 25,000 to 9,000.[15] Reunification ended the programmatic Islamization of Jerusalem by the government of Jordan, a policy that had included the destruction of dozens of synagogues; the imposition of Arabic-language, government-issued textbooks in Christian schools; a ban on the purchase of property by churches; a ban on church funding of social and medical services, including hospitals; and a complete ban on visits to Jewish holy places by Jewish pilgrims.

Freedom of worship by members of all faiths was restored immediately following reunification. The narrow, approximately 120 square metres (1,300 sq ft) pre-1948 alley along the wall used informally for Jewish prayer was enlarged to 2,400 square metres (26,000 sq ft), with the entire Western Wall Plaza covering 20,000 square metres (4.9 acres).[16] The Mugrabi Quarter was bulldozed in order to expand the plaza. In later years, synagogues demolished during the Jordanian rule, including the Hurva Synagogue were rebuilt.[17]

Under the direction of Nahman Avigad, the city's Jewish Quarter, which had largely lain in rubble, was carefully excavated before being rebuilt.[18][19] The complete rebuilding of the city's historic Jewish Quarter offered a virtually blank slate for city planners.[20][21]

International reaction

General Assembly Resolutions 2253[22] and 2254[23] of July 4 and 14, 1967, respectively, considered Israeli activity in Eastern Jerusalem illegal and asked Israel to cancel those activities and especially not to change the features of the city.[24] On 21 May 1968, United Nations Security Council Resolution 252 invalidated legal and administrative measures by Israel in violation of UNGA Resolutions 2253 and 2254 and required those measures be rescinded.[25]

UN criticism since 1967 includes UNSC resolutions in addition to 252, 267 (1969) , 298 (1971) and resolution 476 (1980), regretting changes in the characteristics of Jerusalem, and resolution 478 (1980), where UN Member States were asked to withdraw their embassies from the city.[26] Resolution 478 also "condemned in "the strongest terms" the enactment of Israeli law proclaiming a change in status of Jerusalem." while Resolution 2334 of 2016 condemned all Israeli settlements in occupied territory including East Jerusalem.[27]


The reunification is celebrated by the annual Jerusalem Day, and Israeli national holiday. Special celebrations in 2017 to marked the Jubilee of the 1967 reunification.[28]

See also


  1. ^ Efrat, Elisha; Noble, Allen G. (1988-11-01). "Problems of reunified Jerusalem". Cities. 5 (4): 326–332. doi:10.1016/0264-2751(88)90022-4. ISSN 0264-2751.
  2. ^ Romann, M. (1978-11-01). "Jerusalem since 1967: A profile of a reunited city". GeoJournal. 2 (6): 499–506. doi:10.1007/BF00208589. ISSN 1572-9893. S2CID 153456123.
  3. ^ Kershner, Isabel (2017-06-25). "50 Years After War, East Jerusalem Palestinians Confront a Life Divided". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  4. ^ Lapidoth, Ruth; Hirsch, Moshe (1994). The Jerusalem Question and Its Resolution. Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 0-7923-2893-0.
  5. ^ "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 30 July 1980. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  6. ^ Israeli, Raphael (2014-05-22). Jerusalem Divided: The Armistice Regime, 1947-1967. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-28854-9.
  7. ^ "On June 5, Israel sent a message to Hussein urging him not to open fire. Despite shelling into West Jerusalem, Netanya, and the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel did nothing." The Six Day War and Its Enduring Legacy. Summary of remarks by Michael Oren at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 29, 2002.
  8. ^ a b Shlaim (2000). The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. pp. 244
  9. ^ Holzman-Gazit, Yifat (2016). Land Expropriation in Israel: Law, Culture and Society. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 978-1-317-10836-8. Archived from the original on 12 May 2021. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  10. ^ Schmidt, Yvonne (2008). Foundations of Civil and Political Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories. GRIN Verlag. p. 340. ISBN 978-3-638-94450-2. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  11. ^ "13 Law and Administration Ordinance -Amendment No". Mfa.gov.il.
  12. ^ Knesset website, Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel
  13. ^ Lustick, Ian (1997). "Has Israel Annexed East Jerusalem?". Middle East Policy. 5 (1): 34–45. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4967.1997.tb00247.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  14. ^ Ofra Friesel (May 2016). "Law and History Review". 34 (2): 363–391. doi:10.1017/S0738248016000031. S2CID 146933736. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Kollek, Teddy. "Jerusalem: Present and Future." Foreign Affairs 59, no. 5 (1981): 1041-049. doi:10.2307/20040902.
  16. ^ Ricca, Simone (Summer 2005). "Heritage, Nationalism and the Shifting Symbolism of the Wailing Wall; June 1967: Erasing The Past". Institute of Jerusalem (Palestine) Studies.
  17. ^ In the Holy Land, a Rebuilding for the Generations, The Wall Street Journal Online, March 10, 2010
  18. ^ Meyers, Eric M. "Nahman Avigad (1905-1992)." Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 58 (1992): 1-5. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3622620.
  19. ^ Azaryahu, Maoz, and Arnon Golan. "Photography, Memory and Ethnic Cleansing: The Fate of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, 1948—John Phillips' Pictorial Record." Israel Studies 17, no. 2 (2012): 62-76. doi:10.2979/israelstudies.17.2.62.
  20. ^ Efrat, Elisha, and Allen G. Noble. "Planning Jerusalem." Geographical Review 78, no. 4 (1988): 387-404. doi:10.2307/215090.
  21. ^ Kailani, Wasfi. Middle Eastern Studies 44, no. 4 (2008): 633-37. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40262599.
  22. ^ "A/RES/2253(ES-V) - E - A/RES/2253(ES-V) -Desktop". undocs.org.
  23. ^ "A/RES/2254(ES-V) - E - A/RES/2254(ES-V) -Desktop". undocs.org.
  24. ^ "UN resolutions on Jerusalem". www.aljazeera.com.
  25. ^ Database, E. C. F. "United Nations Security Council Resolution 252 (1968)". ecf.org.il.
  26. ^ Marshall J. Breger (2014). "Chapter 9:Jerusalem's Holy Sites in Israeli Law". In Silvio Ferrari, Dr Andrea Benzo (ed.). Between Cultural Diversity and Common Heritage: Legal and Religious Perspectives on the Sacred Places of the Mediterranean. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781472426031.
  27. ^ "UN resolutions on Jerusalem: Fifty years of futility". www.aljazeera.com.
  28. ^ "PM announces extra NIS 850 million for Jerusalem". Times of Israel. JTA. 2 June 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2017.