The World Should Recognise Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

Monday 18 June 2018, 7pm | Emmanuel Centre

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The World Should Recognise Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

When Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last year, there was outrage around the world. Palestinians held a ‘day of rage’ in response, with furious protests in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Western pundits predicted that wave upon wave of religious violence would engulf the Middle East. The Palestinian ambassador to London claimed Trump’s move amounted to ‘declaring war on 1.5 billion Muslims’, and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ominously warned that the US was ‘plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight’. As the US prepares to move its embassy to Jerusalem in May, the threat of violence looms over the region.

But why all the fuss? According to many of Israel’s supporters, it’s no secret that Jerusalem has been the de facto capital of Israel since its creation. Jerusalem is home to Israel’s Parliament and Supreme Court. It’s where both the Israeli Prime Minister and the President reside. But more than that, Jerusalem has been the spiritual and cultural capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Sure, there might be some disputes over a few neighbourhoods and holy sites. But every other country across the globe has the right to choose their own capital. Why not the world’s only Jewish state?

Others warn, however, that symbolic recognition of Jerusalem would be a mortal blow for the currently frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Let’s not forget that East Jerusalem has been occupied by Israel for over fifty years, giving Israel dominion over hundreds of thousands of Palestinian residents and some of the most fiercely contested holy sites in the world. Why should the world recognize Israel’s sovereignty over land that doesn’t belong to it? The Palestinians insist that any two-state peace agreement must also include East Jerusalem as their own capital. So not only would it be a bad move for peace and stability — recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be a denial of the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to their own homeland.

Join the debate on 18th June, hear the arguments and make up your mind.

Speakers for the motion

Ami Ayalon

Head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000 and former commander-in-chief of the Israeli navy. He later became a member of the Knesset for the Labour party, and is now a staunch advocate for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Remaining speaker to be announced.

Remaining speaker to be announced.

Speakers against the motion

Diana Buttu

Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former spokesperson and legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organisation. She was directly involved in negotiations between Israel and the PLO during the Second Intifada.

Jack Straw

Cabinet minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, where he served as Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Leader of the Commons, and Justice Secretary. He was Labour MP for Blackburn from 1979-2015, and is now a Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy at University College London.


To be announced.


Speakers are subject to change.