Last Monday, amid celebrations throughout Israel, the US Embassy Jerusalem was opened. At the same time, Palestinian unrest over the move led to 60 deaths.
As part of the inaugural event, the US invited 86 other countries to join them in celebration at the former US Consulate which was repurposed as a temporary embassy. The move, which formally took place May 14, 2018, has been celebrated by the Israelis for weeks; some even claimed it fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy:
… For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.—Isaiah 2:3
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, in an opinion piece over the weekend, wrote that Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Jerusalem from Tel Aviv filled biblical prophecy.
“Congratulations. It’s been a long time coming.
“Today Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, it is the home of the Israeli legislature and the Israeli Supreme Court, and Israel’s prime minister and president.
“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like any other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Yet for many years we failed to acknowledge the obvious.
“This city and this entire nation is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.”
“Donald Trump recognized history. He, like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the gods worshipped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel,” she wrote and “sends a clear message that the U.S. stands with the Jewish state.”
However, Trump’s decision set off protests and trouble across the Middle East and sadly, the day the US Embassy Jerusalem opened, dozens of Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops as demonstrators tried to scale the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
Israeli-Gaza border demonstrations have been ongoing since Trump announced the move in December. But protests increased in the last week, leaving nearly 60 dead from Israeli gunfire.
A U.S. embassy official in Tel Aviv said, “Initially, the interim embassy in Arnona will contain office space for the ambassador and a small staff.”
However, he said that “by the end of next year, we intend to open a new embassy Jerusalem annex on the Arnona compound that will provide the ambassador and his team with expanded interim office space.”
Two days after the USA opened their embassy, Guatemala moved their embassy to Jerusalem, followed by Paraguay. Honduras and Romania plan to do the same soon, along with other countries. This has prompted criticism from “many around the world [who] continue to condemn Jerusalem and the Jewish people for fulfilling Biblical prophecy and reclaiming their land.”1
History of US Embassy Jerusalem
In 1995, Congress, by and an overwhelming majority passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act. The purpose of the Act was to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Isreal, move our embassy from Tel Aviv within four years, and called for the city to remain undivided. Each President since that time has signed a waiver every six months to hold off the move for “national security” reasons.
Trump did the same thing in June 2017, but that month the US Senate passed a unanimous resolution observing the 50th anniversary of ancient city’s reunification and reaffirmed of Congress’s Jerusalem Embassy Act. Trump took his cue from that action and in December 2017 did not sign another waiver, but instead announced the move with this Presidential Proclamation:
The foreign policy of the United States is grounded in principled realism, which begins with an honest acknowledgment of plain facts. With respect to the State of Israel, that requires officially recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and relocating the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem as soon as practicable.
The Congress, since the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104– 45) (the ‘‘Act’’), has urged the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate our Embassy to Israel to that city. The United States Senate reaffirmed the Act in a unanimous vote on June 5, 2017. Now, 22 years after the Act’s passage, I have determined that it is time for the United States to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This long overdue recognition of reality is in the best interests of both the United States and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Seventy years ago, the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Since then, the State of Israel has made its capital in Jerusalem—the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government—the home of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset; its Supreme Court; the residences of its Prime Minister and President; and the headquarters of many of its government ministries. Jerusalem is where officials of the United States, including the President, meet their Israeli counterparts. It is therefore appropriate for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
So why did it take the Presidents so long to take this action? Daniel B. Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, wrote for CNN, “Some people date it to the controversy that arose in 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War and unified the city, describing it as a US protest against the Israeli ‘occupation’ of East Jerusalem. That’s wrong.” he wrote and then explained, “The truth is that US policy on Jerusalem derives from events 20 years earlier, when the United Nations passed the Partition Plan for Palestine in November 1947.”
In that early plan, the U.N. recommended creating two states, one Arab and one Jewish; creating a patchwork map for each state’s territory. Jerusalem, on the other hand, was to have a Special International Regime for the city. All of this was intended to end the British Mandate and allow their forces to progressively withdraw between the two States and Jerusalem.
As the mandate was set to expire, Israeli declared itself a state on May 14, 1948. That day, “The Jews of Palestine … were dancing because they were about to realize what was one of the most remarkable and inspiring achievements in human history: A people which had been exiled from its homeland two thousand years before, which had endured countless pogroms, expulsions, and persecutions, but which had refused to relinquish its identity—which had, on the contrary, substantially strengthened that identity; a people which only a few years before had been the victim of mankind’s largest single act of mass murder, killing a third of the world’s Jews, that people was returning home as sovereign citizens in their own independent state.”2
Shapiro wrote, however, “Jerusalem, holy to three faiths and claimed by both sides, was the most sensitive issue of all. So the U.N. punted. It treated Jerusalem as a separate body — a corpus separatum — and drew a circle around it to indicate that the city did not belong to either state.” Then he explained, “Israel’s establishment was rejected by Arab states and the Arab population in Palestine.”
This lead to Israel’s War of Independence in 1948-49. During this war, Israel fought with Middle-eastern nations, including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. But, when it was done, “the armistice talks gave Israel 75% of what was Palestine, adding nearly one-third more land to the new state of Israel before the invasion. More than 600,000 Arabs fled Israel to become refugees in neighboring countries.” wrote Ray Sanchez, CNN.
After this war, Shapiro explained, “Israel controlled West Jerusalem, while Jordan retained the East, along with the West Bank. Yet no new Arab state had come into being.” Things settled restless into the U.N. plan for the city, …well sort of.
Then in 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria attacked Isreal again in the Six Days War. Israel once again was victorious and tripled its territory. They won land from each country, finally occupying East Jerusalem, along with the Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. This, of course, led to the unification of Jerusalem. However, the world would not recognize the occupations as legal and many nations would not move their embassies to Jerusalem.
However, Shapiro said, “When I served as the US Ambassador at our embassy in Tel Aviv, nearly every day I would be driven to Jerusalem to conduct affairs of state with the Israeli government at the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Ministry, and the Knesset.” That is because Jerusalem had become Isreal’s capital and “and we have always treated it functionally, if not formally, as such” concluded the former ambassador.
Ancient History of Jerusalem
Of course, the claim of Jerusalem as Isreal’s capital goes back to David. The LDS Bible Dictionary states that the city was formerly known as Salem (Gen. 14:18; Ps. 76:2) and was “a Jebusite city until it was captured by David (2 Sam. 5:6–9) …During David’s reign, the city was little more than a fortress [but] …during the reign of Solomon much was done toward beautifying the city, the chief buildings erected being the temple (see Temple of Solomon) and the king’s palace.” For nearly 400 years the city functioned as the capital, first, for all of Israel, and later as the capital of Judah after the ten northern tribes split.
Turning back to Jerusalem’s origins, Dennis L. Largey wrote, “The first scriptural mention of the name “Jerusalem” is found in Judges 1: 8 as part of the discussion of the Israelite conquest of the land of Canaan. …Under both David and Solomon, Jerusalem flourished and became an important, internationally recognized city. … [A] bustling international center of commodities (1 Kgs. 10: 10– 11, 14, 22, 26– 27), and construction projects.
“For nearly four hundred years the temple on Mt. Moriah was the heart and soul and showpiece of Jerusalem, as well as the spiritual focal point and center of worship for God’s chosen people. Jerusalem became known as “the holy city” (Isa. 52: 1; Neh. 11: 1), …Jerusalem’s external features …bespoke security: Jehovah’s temple, the massive palace complex, Hezekiah’s broad wall, and the like. The city had withstood the siege of the mighty and terrifying Assyrian Empire. Jerusalem was an island of continuity in a sea of upheaval; empires rose and fell during the four hundred years of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem, but the holy city endured.”3
1 Breaking Israel News, May 14, 2018 2 Oren, Michael B. “Ben-Gurion and the Return to Jewish Power.” New Essays on Zionism. Ed. Hazony, et al. Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2006. 406. PDF. 3Largey, Dennis L., The Book of Mormon Reference Companion, Deseret Book Company. Kindle Edition./cite>