Press agencies have reported news to the effect that the president of the United States intends to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which has stirred profound concern in official and unofficial quarters regarding the serious ramifications should the American Administration in fact embark on this step.

The Arab Thought Forum, which includes intellectual and cultural elite among its members and believes in the right to dissent and pluralism and adheres to the moral and legal norms and standards in conduct and dealings between nations and states, strongly condemns the action if reports prove correct. The United States was the pioneer in producing international humanitarian law, where reference is made to the “Lieber Code” which was formulated by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The Forum evokes the longstanding American official position vis-a-vis Jerusalem, namely that it is occupied territory, and in such capacity, it is impermissible to alter its juridical status except with agreement between the parties to the conflict.

Recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is to undermine all the principles of international law and represents an explicit violation of the latter, and it is indeed a step that may be considered a legislative enactment permitting the acquisition of territory by force, and hence will constitute a precedent sanctioning future contravention of international security and order, which the UN Charter emerged to crystalize and defend.

The Forum recalls not just the UN resolutions concerning Jerusalem, whether what was adopted by the General Assembly or the Security Council, which in toto emphasize the juridical status of Jerusalem and consider it as “occupied territory”, and hence it is inadmissible to alter its status by unilateral acts, and indeed  the leitmotif of this status is what was emphasized by the International Court of Justice in the legal ruling it issued concerning the Separation Wall on 9\7\2004, which stated that the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 are “occupied territories where Israel’s status was that of an occupying state.. and all those territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories..” (Paragraph 78)

It is necessary to remind ourselves that Jerusalem has a religious and heritage status encompassing the three religions, and the United States of America shall contravene its national laws if it embarks on recognizing occupied Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state. In this connection Article (405) of the Law of Land Warfare (FM27-10) provides that the properties of municipalities and those possessed by religious or philanthropic or educational or cultural and scientific institutions, and even state property, shall be treated as private property. Thus seizure or destruction or intentionally inflicting damage on institutions such as those or on historical antiquities or works of art or science, are prohibited and shall be subject to legal measures.” Embarking upon recognizing occupied Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state is an explicit violation of its national laws because recognition will unleash the hand of Israel to seize and destroy all the historical and religious institutions of the two religions, both Christian and Islamic as well as educational institutions, particularly given that Israel continues to endeavor to alter the demographic and geographic features of the city, while the building of settlements in and around it and also the construction of the wall condemned by the International Court were merely to effectuate those alterations. The draft law recently introduced in the Israeli Knesset, which intends to merge Israeli settlements with Jerusalem and exclude Arab suburbs from it represents a confirmation that this policy is racist and hostile.

 The Arab Thought Forum urges all official institutions and civil society organizations and opinion leaders to raise their voices and to demand that the United States comply and adhere to the principles of the law whose foundations it had laid at both the national and international levels. In effect adherence to the law is the civilized alternative to the violation of rights and terrorism.                        

The Arab Thought Forum

4th December 2017


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