Chaim Silberstein: What is the legal status of Jerusalem?

editor - 13 June 2019

In this interview, Chaim Silberstein (who founded the organization “Keep Jerusalem”) explains the complexity of the city of Jerusalem.

According to Silberstein, Jerusalem can be likened to a house with five levels:

  1. Geography – where is Jerusalem, and what are its borders?
  2. Demography – who live in Jerusalem, what are the changes in the population?
  3. Legal rights – who does Jerusalem belong to under international law?
  4. Security – why is Jerusalem important for Israel’s security?
  5. Strategic challenges facing Jerusalem – What are the options? Should Jerusalem be divided?

Jerusalem has been a united city since June 1967, after Israel liberated East Jerusalem and the “West Bank” from the Jordanian occupation. Today the Jerusalem population is about 850,000 people, including 300,000 Arabs, and 550,000 Jews (half in East, half in West Jerusalem).

Keep Jerusalem advocates keeping the whole city of Jerusalem under Israeli control. The Jewish/Arab ratio is changing – many Jews are leaving, while Arabs are coming to Jerusalem, some of them living illegally. This is concerning, because it means Jerusalem could soon become an Arab majority city. The Arabs should be allowed to live in the city, but there is a real fear that if they gain control of the city, they will seek to evict the Jews, and destroy the Jewish Holy Places, as the Jordanians did when they controlled the city from 1949 to 1967.

It is important to emphasise that the Jews did not steal Jerusalem or any other territories from the Arabs. The Jewish people have a right to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria under international law, based on the Mandate for Palestine, which was approved by the League of Nations in 1922. The purpose of the Mandate for Palestine was the reconstitution of the Jewish homeland in Palestine – which comprised the whole area west of the Jordan river.

Chaim also shares in this interview about his daughter Shira and her husband Amichai who were attacked by a Palestinian terrorist while standing at a bus stop in Ofra in December 2018. Shira was 7-months pregnant at the time. Shira and Amichai survived, and the terrorist was eliminated, but their baby died as a result of the wounds sustained in that attack.

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