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United Nations Security Council Resolution 476
Status of Jerusalem

June 30, 1980

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According to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, Jerusalem was to be an internationalized area under UN supervision, with the partition of Mandatory Palestine 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 Palestine 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. 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.

In 1980, a private measure by right wing MK Geula Cohen proposed a basic law (Basic Law: Jerusalem) that would declare that united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that the government should give priority to the development of Jerusalem. There was nothing in the law that stated  that Israel had annexed Jerusalem, nor did the Basic Law: Jerusalem reiterate that Israeli jurisdiction held in all parts of the city, nor did it demarcate any boundaries. Nonetheless, it caused a storm of protest resulting in two U.N. Security Council resolutions, not vetoed by the United States, which protested against changes in the status of Jerusalem. The first of these resolutions, below, was passed before the law was passed in the Israeli parliament. The second, Security Council Resolution 478, was passed after the law was passed in Israel.  

Ami Isseroff (December 5, 2009)

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      Security Council
S/RES/476 (1980)
30 June 1980

Resolution 476 (1980)

Adopted by the Security Council at its 2242nd meeting
on 30 June 1980

The Security Council,

Having considered the letter of 28 May 1980 from the representative of Pakistan, the current Chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as contained in document S/13966 of 28 May 1980,

Reaffirming that acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible,

Bearing in mind the specific status of Jerusalem and, in particular, the need for protection and preservation of the unique spiritual and religious dimension of the Holy Places in the city,

Reaffirming its resolutions relevant to the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, in particular resolutions 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969, 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971 and 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980,

Recalling the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,

Deploring the persistence of Israel, in changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,

Gravely concerned over the legislative steps initiated in the Israeli Knesset with the aim of changing the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,

1. Reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem;

2. Strongly deplores the continued refusal of Israel, the occupying Power, to comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly;

3. Reconfirms that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

4. Reiterates that all such measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council;

5. Urgently calls on Israel, the occupying Power, to abide by this and previous Security Council resolutions and to desist forthwith from persisting in the policy and measures affecting the character and status of the Holy city of Jerusalem;

6. Reaffirms its determination in the event of non-compliance by Israel with this resolution, to examine practical ways and means in accordance with relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations to secure the full implementation of this resolution.

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