'Jerusalem, capital of Israel and the Jewish people'

The Israel Zionist Council will petition 50 MKs and the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee this week to amend the "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel," to designate Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people worldwide. The amendment, which will be presented to MKs by Council leaders - including director Moshe Benatar and professors Uzi Arad, Shimon Sheetrit and Ze'ev Segal - will add the words "and the Jewish people" after "capital of Israel." The change "comes to anchor in legislation Jerusalem's position not just as the capital of Israel, but also of all the Jewish people ... a reflection of the political, social, historic and moral situation that exists in any case," according to Prof. Arad, who heads the Council's Strategic Forum. Asked if the change would have practical implications, Arad noted that "Arab countries claim that the Arab and Muslim world has interests in Jerusalem, and the rulers of Jordan or Saudi Arabia talk about their rights to Jerusalem's holy places." Similarly, "and seventy-fold, the Jewish people and Jewish leaders from around the world have something to say about Jerusalem, their capital for 3,000 years." "This is not a complicated thing," said Benatar. "It's been 40 years since [the unification of] Jerusalem, so there's no better timing for this. The Knesset will accept it." The 50 MKs receiving the amended version of the law will be "from all the Zionist factions," according to a Council representative. To pass into law, the amendment needs only a simple majority in the Knesset. The law, known commonly as the "Jerusalem Law," was passed on July 30, 1980, and defined "united" Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It prompted a strong international response in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 478, which excoriated the law and demanded it be rescinded. In keeping with the resolution, most governments pulled their embassies out of Jerusalem.