Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post, published December 24, 2016.
Regarding the Dec. 14 World article “Moving embassy to Jerusalem is a ‘very big priority’ for Trump“:
Consistently overlooked is the reason the United States did not move our embassy to West Jerusalem after the government of Israel had established itself there. The United States recognized the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice lines as the new borders of Israel outside Jerusalem, but as for Jerusalem the U.S. position was to support the provision of the 1947 U.N. Partition Resolution, which called for Jerusalem to be a “corpus separatum under a special international regime … administered by the United Nations.” Thus, the U.S. position was not to recognize West Jerusalem as part of Israel nor East Jerusalem as part of Jordan because of the plans for a U.N. administration of all of Jerusalem. That is why the U.S. Embassy was not moved to West Jerusalem, the location of the government of Israel, including its foreign ministry.
By 1953, the United Nations had shelved plans for a “corpus separatum,” and West Jerusalem was de facto understood to be part of Israel. Keeping the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv had no relationship to the status of East Jerusalem. Not moving the U.S. Embassy to West Jerusalem in 1953 or thereafter was essentially a bureaucratic decision, devoid of any legal justification.
Richard Schifter, Bethesda
The writer is chairman of the board of directors of the American Jewish International Relations Institute.