Basic Law: Jerusalem
July 30, 1980

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The Basic Law: Jerusalem, declares that United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It was passed July 30, 1980. It began as a private initiative of MK Geula Cohen and was adopted by the government of Menachem Begin.

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, Jerusalem was to be an internationalized area under UN supervision, with the partition of the Palestine Mandate into Jewish and Arab states. However, first the Arabs, and later the Jews, objected to internationalization, and the UN never tried to implement its international regime. It did continue to treat Jerusalem as though it was a "Corpus Separatum" in various documents such as UN General Assembly Resolution 303  which reaffirmed the international status of Jerusalem, and UN Secretariat papers relating to holy places (see Palestine Holy Places and PPalestine Holy Places: Implementation of UN Resolution 194. Jordan conquered and annexed East Jerusalem, including the Holy Places of the Old City, evicting the Jewish population of the Old City and destroying all but one of the synagogues that had been built there. During Jordanian rule, Jews were not allowed access to east Jerusalem holy places. The two parts of the city were separated by barbed wire. Israel managed to hold on to the primarily Jewish, western part of Jerusalem, with most of the Arab residents of West Jerusalem and its suburbs either fleeing to East Jerusalem or being forced to leave. Israel made West Jerusalem its capital and seat of government, though de facto, until 1967 most government offices were in Tel Aviv. In the 1967 Six day war, Israel conquered the entire West Bank including East Jerusalem. In 1968, Israel created a much enlarged Jerusalem municipality including all of western Jerusalem, all of eastern Jerusalem and a surrounding area, totaling about 125 square kilometers. Administrative measures declared that Israeli law and jurisdiction held in all parts of the united municipality.

The administrative law therefore added little or nothing to the existing Israeli claims on Jerusalem, but was by way of being a declarative statement regarding the existing status quo. The law was careful not to annex Jerusalem to Israel. Arab citizens of East Jerusalem have permanent residency status, but do not have citizenship. Nonetheless, many people, including many Israelis, are under the mistaken impression that Israel has formally annexed East Jerusalem.

The law evoked a storm of protest from Arab countries, resulting in UN Security Council Resolution 476 and UN Security Council Resolution 478. These declared that the status of east Jerusalem was no different from that of the rest of the  West Bank, that it was "occupied" territory and  that all attempts by Israel to change the status of Israel are illegal and will be ignored by international law. In consequence of these resolutions, most foreign countries removed their embassies from Jerusalem. At this time, Israel built several neighborhoods on the periphery of Jerusalem at the border of the enlarged municipality, in order to emphasize its determination that Jerusalem must remain united.

Ami Isseroff

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Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel

Jerusalem, Capital of Israel 1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.


Seat of the President, the Knesset, the Government
and the Supreme Court
2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court.


Protection of Holy Places 3. The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.


Development of Jerusalem 4. (a) The Government shall provide for the development and prosperity of Jerusalem and the well-being of its inhabitants by allocating special funds, including a special annual grant to the Municipality of Jerusalem (Capital City Grant) with the approval of the Finance Committee of the Knesset.

(b) Jerusalem shall be given special priority in the activities of the authorities of the State so as to further its development in economic and other matters.

(c) The Government shall set up a special body or special bodies for the implementation of this section.


Prime Minister

President of the State

* Passed by the Knesset on the 17th Av, 5740 (30th July, 1980) and published in Sefer Ha-Chukkim No. 980 of the 23rd Av, 5740 (5th August, 1980), p. 186; the Bill and an Explanatory Note were published in Hatza'ot Chok No. 1464 of 5740, p. 287.


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