Myth or Fact: Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel?

Mar 30, 2012 No Comments by

By Mitchell Bard –

MYTH: “The State Department knows the capital of Israel.”

FACT: American students are often ridiculed for their poor knowledge of geography, but the government institution responsible for U.S. foreign policy would be expected to have a better handle on such basic questions as the capitals of the nations of the world.

Apparently, however, the State Department is unable to identify the capital of the State of Israel.

The following exchange took place on March 28, 2012, between State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and a reporter:

QUESTION: Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss … Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed …. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent-status issue; it’s got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.

Q: Is it the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy — the location of the U.S. embassy?

MS. NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.

Q: Does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.

Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?

MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue … and I have nothing further to say on it ….

Q: What is the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.

Q: What is the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND: Our embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.

Q: So does that mean you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND: The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.

Q: I just want to go back to — I want to clarify something … Perhaps give you an “out” on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think – or is it just East Jerusalem?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. OK? 

Q: All right. So hold on. So, I just want to make sure. You’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.

MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said. Please.1

It seems clear from this exchange that the U.S. State Department does not know where the capital of Israel is located and refuses even to recognize West Jerusalem, an area never “occupied” or claimed by the Palestinians, as the capital of Israel.

King David first made Jerusalem his capital more than 3,000 years ago and no other nation ever recognized the city as its seat of government. Jerusalem once again became the capital of a Jewish sovereign state with the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians may change the status of part of the city in the interests of peace, but the United States should have no doubt that the capital of Israel now and in the future is Jerusalem.


About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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