Prime Minister Ben-Gurion On Jerusalem

(December 13, 1949)


On the adoption of Resolution 303 (IV), the Knesset met in Tel Aviv to hear the Prime Minister. David Ben-Gurion proposed, and the Knesset concurred, that the Knesset move its seat to Jerusalem and that all Government offices, save for the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as well. On 27 December, the Knesset held its first session in Jerusalem, Government offices began to move shortly afterwards. The Foreign Ministry moved in 1953. Following is the address of the Prime Minister:

One week ago today, in the name of the Government of Israel, I made a statement on Jerusalem before the Knesset. I need hardly say to you that this statement retains its full force, and that no change in our attitude has occurred or can possibly occur.

As you know, the General Assembly of the United Nations has, in the meantime, 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 because of the determination and unalterable opposition of the inhabitants of Jerusalem themselves. It is to be hoped that the General Assembly will in the course of time amend the error which its majority has made, and will make no attempt 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 for freedom of worship and free access to the Holy Places, and which seek to safeguard existing rights in the Holy Places and religious edifices in Jerusalem. Our undertaking to preserve these rights remains in force, and we shall gladly and willingly carry it out, even though we cannot lend our participation to the forced separation of Jerusalem, which violates without need or reason the historic and natural right of the people who dwell in Zion.

From the establishment of the Provisional Government we made the peace, the security and the economic consolidation of Jerusalem our principal care. In the stress of war, when Jerusalem was under siege, we were compelled to establish the seat of Government in Ha'Kirya at Tel Aviv. But for the State of Israel there has always been and always will be one capital only - Jerusalem the Eternal. Thus it was 3,000 years ago - and thus it will be, we believe, until the end of time.

As soon as the fighting stopped, we began transferring Government offices to Jerusalem and creating the conditions the capital needed - effective communications, economic and technical arrangements. We are continuing with the transfer of the Government to Jerusalem and hope to complete it as soon as possible.

When the first Knesset was opened in. Jerusalem on 14 February 1949, there were no adequate facilities 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 that you take a decision to this effect.

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


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs