Israel Institute of New Zealand Director Dr David Cumin has welcomed today’s announcement of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and is calling on New Zealand’s Government to follow suit.
Israel first declared Jerusalem as its capital in December 1949. However, at that time it only controlled a portion of the city. After being attacked by Jordan in 1967, Israeli Defense Forces captured the remainder of Jerusalem and the West Bank and reunified the city under Israeli sovereignty. For the first time in 50 years, all faiths were able to visit the holy sites. Today, the Parliament of Israel – known as The Knesset – is located in Jerusalem and so is the Supreme Court of Israel.
However, to date, foreign Governments have chosen to locate their Embassies in Tel Aviv, a coastal city to the west of Jerusalem. Although the US Government passed legislation in 1995 that required their Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, implementing the legislation has been postponed every six months for the past two decades because of national security fears.
“Today’s announcement, by Trump, simply formalises that two decade old piece of legislation – but it’s an extremely welcome move which finally recognises that a sovereign state should have the right to determine the location of its own capital and that terror should not win”.
“The current situation is untenable. It’s the equivalent of foreign nations refusing to accept Wellington as the capital of New Zealand and choosing to locate their embassies in Palmerston North or Auckland. We’d be outraged”Dr David Cumin
Dr Cumin is calling on the New Zealand Government to now follow suit and recognise Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel.
“It’s a pity that we weren’t able to lead this as we have done on other issues where we’ve seen injustice taking place – but at least there’s now a precedent that we can follow to correct a decades old snub”.Dr David Cumin
Dr Cumin says that this also provides an opportunity for the new Government to repair some of the damage done by the previous Government’s ill-considered decision to co-sponsor a UNSC resolution condemning Israel.
“Our usually excellent relationship with Israel has been under a cloud since UNSC Resolution 2334 was passed in December 2016 – and this provides the new Government with a great opportunity to put that back on a firm foundation”.Dr David Cumin
Dr Cumin says that there is no reason why the relocated US Embassy – or a relocated NZ consulate – should be seen as a barrier to the establishment of a Palestinian State.
“The proposed US Embassy will be located in West Jerusalem and will still comply with current international conventions. That means that Arab Palestinians still have the opportunity to have a capital in East Jerusalem. It is up to their leadership to decide if they want to continue political violence and ‘days of rage’ or if they want to negotiate for a better future for all”.Dr David Cumin