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Israel Premier and Parliament to Move to Jerusalem; Hen Gurion Reads Declaration

December 14, 1949
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The office of the Premier of Israel will be moved to Jerusalem and the Israel parliament will convene in the Holy City in about 10 days, it was authoritatively learned here today following a session of the Knesset at which Mr. Ben Gurion in a statement deplored the decision of the U.N. General Assembly to place Jerusalem under international trusteeship. The Ministry of Defense, headed by Mr. Ben Gurion, will remain in Tel Aviv.

The Israel Premier emphasized that Jerusalem always has been and always will be the capital of Israel. He said that there is nothing to prevent the Israel parliament from holding its sessions in Jerusalem, that the government will continue to transfer its offices to Jerusalem and that he hopes to complete the transfer as soon as possible.

“From the very first days of our provisional government,” the Premier said, in a declaration, “we made peace, security and economic consolidation of Jerusalem our principal care. Amidst the stress of war, when Jerusalem was under siege, we were compelled to establish the seat of the government in Hakyria, near Tel Aviv. For the state of Israel there always has been and always will be one capital only — Jerusalem, the eternal. So it was 3,000 years ago and so it will be, we believe, until the end of time.

“As soon as the fighting stopped, we began to transfer government offices to Jerusalem and to create conditions for a normal life in the capital. We are continuing with the transfer of the government to Jerusalem and we hope to complete it as soon as possible.

“When the first Knesset opened in Jerusalem on February 14, 1949, no adequate facilities existed for its normal functioning in the capital, and it was necessary to transfer its sessions temporarily to Tel Aviv. The required arrangements in Jerusalem’ are on the verge of completion and there is nothing now to prevent the Knesset from returning to Jerusalem. We propose to take a decision to this effect.

“In all these arrangements there is nothing altering in the slightest degree any existing rights to the Holy Places which the Israel Government will fully respect, or our consent to effective supervision of these Holy Places by the United Nations as our delegation declared at the General Assembly.”


In a tense atmosphere, with the galleries of the Knesset filled to capacity, Premier Ben Gurion made it clear that the Israel Government did not change its attitude with regard to Jerusalem even after the decision of the U.N. General Assembly to internationalize the city. “One week ago on this day in the name of the Israel Government I made a statement with regard to Jerusalem at the Knesset,” he said. “I need hardly say to you that this statement retains its full force. No change in our attitude has occurred or can possibly occur.

“As you know, the U.N. General Assembly, meanwhile, by a large majority, decided to place Jerusalem under an international regime, as a separate entity. This decision is utterly incapable of implementation if only for the determined unalterable opposition of the Jerusalem inhabitants themselves. It is to be hoped that the General Assembly will in the course of time correct this mistake which its majority made and will make no attempt whatsoever to impose a regime on the Holy City against the will of its people.

“We respect and shall continue to respect the wishes of all those states which are concerned with the freedom of worship and free access to the Holy Places and which seek to safeguard the existing rights of the Holy Places and of the religious buildings in Jerusalem. Our undertaking to preserve these rights remains in force. We will gladly and willingly carry this out even though we cannot lend ourselves to partake in an enforced separation of Jerusalem which violates without need or reason the historic and natural right of the people dwelling in Zion,” Ben Gurion concluded.


The Premier advised the parliament to postpone a general debate on his statement. Such a debate was requested by the General Zionists. However, Mr. Ben Gurion pointed out that an immediate debate was untimely. He suggested that a broad discussion should be held at a later stage. By a vote of 59-27, the parliament decided to postpone the holding of an immediate debate, but permitted one representative of each party to state the views of his group.

A leader of the Mapam, Yitzchak Ben Aharon, requested that the government pledge it would reject the present partitioning of Jerusalem. He also demanded that the government give assurances of non-cooperation with any United Nations bodies which may attempt to implement the U.N. Assembly decision placing Jerusalem under international trusteeship. He said that his party will fully back the government against internationalization or any other plans for the separation of Jerusalem.

Menacham Beigin, leader of the Herut Party, severely criticized the government for giving up the Old City two years ago. He also criticized Premier Ben Gurion for renewing the acceptance of international supervision of the Holy Places. This, he said, meant that the Israel Government, even by having its seat in Jerusalem, would agree to govern under the shade of foreign rule.

Joseph Saphir, leader of the General Zionists, demanded a proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel under Article I of the provisional constitution. He also held that the statement made by Mr. Ben Gurion was unacceptable since it endorsed the principle of foreign rule in a part of Jerusalem. Nathan Friedman-Yellin urged the reunion of the separated parts of Jerusalem and appealed for “united, closed ranks” in the face of anticipated United Nations sanctions.

The session of the Knesset concluded with an announcement by Joseph Sprinzak, speaker of the parliament, declaring that the seat of the Knesset will be transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after the eight-day Hannukah festival which begins Thursday at sundown.

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