Israel Foreign Ministry Starts Functioning Today in Jerusalem

The Israel Cabinet today approved the decision by Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett to transfer the Israel Foreign Office from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministry was the last major department of the government to remain behind in Tel Aviv. Its transfer to Jerusalem will be effected today.

Officials and employees of the Ministry have been ordered to report to their desks in Jerusalem tomorrow morning. Today, scores of workmen and cleaning women were putting the finishing touches to the ten small buildings which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the Ministry. Signs directing visitors to the various departments were already in place.

Formal notification of the move was communicated this week-end to all foreign missions in Israel. The official communique announcing the transfer expressed the hope that eventually all foreign missions would establish their quarters in the capital.

(In Washington, the Department of State said that Israel has no right to declare Jerusalem as its capital. It emphasized that the United States does not plan to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such transfer, it pointed out, would be “inconsistent, with the United Nations resolutions dealing with the international nature of Jerusalem,” as well as with the solution regarding Jerusalem set forth by Secretary John Foster Dulles in his address on June 1, 1953.)

It is understood that in its communication to the foreign missions, the government expressed its conviction that no useful purpose would be served by the separation of the Ministry from the main body of the government and that the Ministry would be unable to fully discharge its normal functions under such circumstances. The message is also said to have stressed that there is no case in modern history where a Foreign Ministry has been separated from the other organs of a state.

It is expected that the heads of the foreign missions will henceforth travel to Jerusalem whenever they seek an interview with the Foreign Minister or when they are summoned by him. In a move to indicate its desire to smooth over the procedural difficulties, the Ministry is retaining a liaison office in Tel Aviv for the time being.

The communication to the foreign missions said that while the Israel Government regards the problem of the Holy Places and the location of the Foreign Ministry as entirely unrelated, it takes this opportunity to reiterate its readiness to accept and cooperate in the execution of any system of international supervision of the Holy Places which the United Nations might, at any time, find necessary and practicable.

Observers here expressed the opinion that the Israel Government had delayed the transfer for several months in the expectation that the UN General Assembly might pass a resolution regularizing Jerusalem’s international position. Though there is a UN resolution on the books calling for internationalization of the city, the resolution has never been implemented and in the view of the Israel and Jordan Governments, confirmed by the UN Trusteeship Council, the resolution cannot be implemented.

However, it was expected that the General Assembly would establish international supervision over the Holy Places in both parts of the city and thereby indicate that its regard for the international community’s interest in Jerusalem had been fully satisfied in that manner.

NEXT STORY