Thank You, Mr. President
For recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
It will come about in that day that I will make
Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all
who lift it will be severely injured. And all the
nations of the earth will be gathered against it.
(Zechariah 12:3 NASB)
- Presidential candidate Bill Clinton promised to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to that city.
- Presidential candidate George W. Bush promised to do the same.
- Presidential candidate Barack Obama refrained from making any promise of recognition.
- Presidential candidate Donald Trump renewed the promise.
The promises of Clinton and Bush proved to be insincere, meaningless hot air. Obama’s unwillingness to take a stand signaled that he would become the most anti-Israel president in American history. President Trump has kept his promise, and he is to be commended for doing so.
He made his proclamation on December 6, 2017. In it he stated, “This [recognition] is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
The Jewish Tie to Jerusalem
Jerusalem became the capital city of the Jewish people 3,000 years ago when David conquered the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:6-7). During the 1,878 years that the Jewish people were evicted from the land (70 AD to 1948), Jerusalem never served as the capital of any Arab or Muslim nation.
It should also be kept in mind that when God gave the land of Canaan to the Jewish people, He gave them an eternal title to it (Psalm 105:8-11). He warned them that if they were not faithful to Him, they would be evicted from the land (Deuteronomy 28:64-67). But He made it clear in His Word that if they were ejected, they would retain their title to the land, and one day they would be regathered to it (Ezekiel 11:14-17).
During the period of their dispersion from the land, it became a barren wasteland, with malaria-infested swamps along the Mediterranean coast and in the Upper Galilee. It was a land that no one coveted except the Jewish people.
Each year, at the end of their Passover meals, Jews worldwide would pray, “Next year in Jerusalem.” And when they built their synagogues anywhere in the world, they made sure that they faced in the direction of Jerusalem.
The Return of the Jews to Their Homeland
The land of Palestine, as it was renamed by the Romans, remained sparsely populated. It was owned mainly by absentee landlords, and it was under the domain of the Ottoman Empire whose capital was Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The people living in Palestine considered themselves to be Syrians.
When the Jewish people began to return to their homeland in the 1890s, they bought the land that God had already given them in perpetuity, and they paid inflated prices for it. The Arabs laughed all the way to the bank over the foolish Jews who were willing to purchase such worthless land.
The Arabs were unaware of a prophecy contained in Ezekiel 36:35 where God promised that when the day came for the Jews to return to their land, it would become “like the Garden of Eden.”
And that is exactly what has happened since 1948 when the Jewish state was re-established. Today, the land of Israel is the bread basket of the whole Middle East, and the Arabs now want it back.
The Arab Claim to the Land
The Arabs also want the land because there is a teaching in the Islamic religion that says once a territory is conquered by Muslim forces, it forever belongs to Allah. Therefore, the Muslims of the Middle East believe they have a spiritual obligation to reconquer the land.
This is the reason the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often said, “If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”1
When the Muslim leaders of the Middle East say they want a “two-state solution,” they are lying. Their desire is not simply a separate Palestinian State. Their goal is the annihilation of Israel. Gaining a separate Palestinian State would serve only as a stepping stone toward their final attack on Israel, just as they have used their acquisition of Gaza as a launching pad for missiles.
It should be kept in mind that a Palestinian State already exists. It is called Jordan. Two-thirds of its citizens are Palestinians, and the nation occupies two-thirds of the area of Palestine that was offered to the Jewish people in the Balfour Declaration in 1917. It was only when the British became concerned about their access to Arab oil that they decided in 1921 to carve out this Arab state from the territory of Palestine.
The Jews were left with only a sliver of land (10,000 square miles) along the Mediterranean coast for the creation of a Jewish State. And they lost almost half of that sliver when the United Nations decided in November 1947 that the small piece of land left should be divided into two states — one Jewish and the other Arabic.
The Re-establishment of Israel
The Jews felt betrayed once again, but they reluctantly accepted the UN resolution and proceeded to proclaim the establishment of their state on May 14, 1948. The Arabs denounced the UN resolution, and five Arab nations attacked Israel when the Israeli declaration of independence was announced.
An important point that is usually overlooked is that the same day the Israelis declared the existence of their state, the Arabs could have legally declared the establishment of a second Palestinian state. But no, they wanted it all, so they attacked Israel, and the Israelis fought them to a standstill in the War of Independence (1948-1949).
The Status of Jerusalem
When the war finally ended, the Jordanians were in control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City of Jerusalem, which included the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. And although the Jordanians promised in the cease-fire agreements to allow the Jewish people access to the Western Wall, they immediately reneged on that agreement before the ink was dry. The result was that no Jews were allowed to pray at the Western Wall between 1949 and 1967.
Despite the fact that the Israelis controlled only the western part of Jerusalem following the War of Independence, in December of 1949, the Israeli Cabinet proceeded to declare Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.2
This proclamation was confirmed by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on January 23, 1950. The parliamentary resolution affirmed that “Jerusalem was, and always has been, the capital of Israel.”3
This statement was of course, historically correct. Jerusalem had served as the national capital of the Jewish people for more than a thousand years, from the time of King David to 70 AD when the city was destroyed by the Romans and the Jews were dispersed worldwide. Thereafter, the city served as the heartfelt spiritual capital of the Jewish people until they once again acquired possession of it in 1967.
The Re-unification of Jerusalem
When the Six Day War broke out in June of 1967, the Israelis warned the Jordanians not to get involved. But they ignored the warning and attacked Israel. They were quickly defeated, resulting in Israel conquering all the Jordanian territory on the west bank of the Jordan River, including the entire city of Jerusalem.
Thirteen years following the Six Day War, which resulted in the re-unification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, the Knesset approved what has come to be known as “The Jerusalem Law.” Passed on July 30, 1980, the law declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” The law also guaranteed the protection of all “Holy Places” within the city.4
The United Nations responded a month later in August with a Security Council Resolution which strongly condemned the Israeli “attempt to annex East Jerusalem.”5 It also called on all member states to reject the Israeli law and to withdraw their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. The resolution passed 14-0, with the United States abstaining. Jimmy Carter was President at that time.
The Departure from Jerusalem
This Security Council resolution resulted in 13 embassies being moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.6 All the rest of the embassies were already located in Tel Aviv. The American Embassy was established in Tel Aviv in 1949 since that was the original seat of the Israeli government. It had remained there even though the Israelis later shifted their governmental operations to Jerusalem.
In 1982, Costa Rica moved its embassy back to Jerusalem, followed by El Salvador in 1984.7 Arab nations responded by severing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties with the two countries. Since Trump’s recognition, Guatemala has announced that their embassy will be moved back to Jerusalem.8 Other nations are expected to follow.
The steadfast refusal of most of the world’s nations to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move their embassies there is an incredible insult to the Jewish people. It is really an expression of anti-Semitism since no other nation has been treated in such a shabby way. It is equivalent to some nation saying to the American people, “We do not recognize Washington, D.C. as your capital, so we are going to place our embassy in Chicago.”
This virulent anti-Semitism is expressed regularly in United Nations resolutions condemning Israel for imagined crimes, while reckless rogue nations like Iran and North Korea are ignored. It has also been expressed in recent resolutions by UNESCO.
For example, in October of 2016, UNESCO backed a motion nullifying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.9 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded by claiming the resolution was a “delusional decision.” He added, “To declare that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids.”10
The following year, in May 2017, UNESCO went even further. The organization passed a resolution denying that Israel has any legal or historical rights anywhere in Jerusalem!11 And, as if to poke a finger in Israel’s eye, they passed this resolution on Israel’s Independence Day!
In 1995, the US Congress got fed up with the inaction on the issue of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Our Presidents kept kicking the can down the road, and our State Department was (and still is) dominated by Arabists who had no interest in urging the recognition of Jerusalem and the move of our embassy. So, on October 23, 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy and Relocation Act, calling for the relocation of our embassy to Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.12
The act called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. The vote in favor of the law was overwhelming. It was adopted by the Senate 93 to 5, and by the House, 374 to 37.13 The act provided that, beginning in October 1998, the president could suspend recognition and the move of the embassy by signing a waiver every six months saying “such suspension is necessary to protect the national security of the United States.”14
President Clinton refused to sign the bill, but he was also reluctant to veto it. He allowed it to become law without his signature. He and his State Department considered the law to be an unconstitutional infringement of the president’s right to conduct foreign policy. Subsequent presidents and their counselors felt the same way. It is interesting to note that of the 22 presidential suspensions between 1988 and the fall of 2009, only George W. Bush’s issuances included the following wording: “The Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”15
Presidential Reluctance vs A Spiritual Reality
In addition to their constitutional objections to the law, our presidents (both Democrat and Republican) have believed that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would endanger the peace process. This fear is, of course, an unfounded one since there has never been any credible “peace process” in the Middle East.
What our political leaders have failed to understand is that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not a political one capable of a political solution. It is, instead, a spiritual conflict that can be traced back 4,000 years to the time of Abraham when his family split between the descendants of his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. This is a conflict that will be resolved only when Jesus, the King of kings, returns to rule over all the world from Jerusalem.
Further Congressional Action
President Trump’s proclamation was preceded by a unanimous resolution passed by the Senate on June 6, 2017, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s reoccupation and unification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.16
That resolution, which was sponsored by both the Republican and Democrat leaders of the Senate (Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer), reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which stated that Jerusalem should remain a united city and should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel, with the US Embassy located there.17
Reactions to Trump’s Recognition
Reaction to Trump’s bold move came quickly from around the world:
The United Nations — Predictably, the Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterras, stated that, “Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties…I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.”18 The entire UN followed suit on December 21, 2017, by passing a General Assembly non-binding resolution that condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. The vote was 128 to 9. Thirty-five nations abstained and 21 did not vote.19
Ayman Odeh — The Israeli-Arab political leader of the Arab List in the Israeli parliament, declared. “Trump is a crazy pyromaniac who is capable of setting the entire region on fire with his madness.”20
Theresa May — The British Prime Minister provided a typical bureaucratic response when she characterized Trump’s move as “unhelpful to peace in the region.”21
Emmanuel Macron — The new Prime Minister of France dismissed the announcement as “a unilateral decision.”22
The Arab League — Convened three days later in Cairo and denounced the decision, calling it “dangerous and unacceptable” and a “flagrant attack on a political solution.”23 They proceeded to call upon the nations of the world to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its capital. (East Jerusalem includes the Old City, which is the location of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.)
Israel Rabbis — A group of 250 Israeli rabbis sent a letter to President Trump thanking and praising him for his decision. Specifically, they said, “We are confident that you will be remembered in the history of the Jewish people forever as one who stood at the forefront and was not afraid. May God’s promise to Joshua be fulfilled upon you: ‘Did I not command you, be strong and have courage, do not fear and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.'”24 Rabbi Asaf Fried, an official spokesman for the United Temple Mount, saw Trump’s action as similar to the role played by the Persian king, Cyrus, who ended the Babylonian exile and helped with the building of the Second Temple.25
The Palestinian Authority — Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the PA, denounced the decision, saying that it would motivate extremist groups to wage holy war.26 The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, said Trump’s decision “disqualified the United States to play any role in any peace process.” He added, “President Trump just destroyed any policy of a two-state solution.”27
Recep Erdogan — The President of Turkey said his country would not tolerate the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Jerusalem is our red line. Any steps against Jerusalem’s historic status and holiness are unacceptable.”28
Benjamin Netanyahu — The Prime Minister of Israel received the President’s proclamation with great joy and appreciation, saying, “The President’s decision is an important step toward peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.” He then added, “President Trump has inscribed himself in the annals of our capital for all time. His name will now be linked to the names of others in the context of the glorious history of Jerusalem and our people.”29
Mike Huckabee — Former Governor of Arkansas and former presidential candidate, strongly endorsed the decision with these words:30
For over two decades American presidents have talked the good talk on Israel. But when it’s come to taking action, they’ve hesitated…instead of standing with our ally and recognizing its right to call Jerusalem its capital. Today, President Donald Trump did what his predecessors didn’t have the courage to do…In so doing, he set two great examples for us — how to make good on promises and how to treat your friends.
Robert Jeffress — Pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and a Trump spiritual adviser, issued a statement that read:31 Jerusalem is and should be recognized as the capital of Israel. It is David’s capital, the site of the first and second temples, the focus of the historians’ accounts, the psalmists’ songs and the prophets’ visions. It is the place where Jesus, a Jew Himself, was crucified and where He was resurrected. It is the place where He will set foot again on earth at His Second Coming. President Trump has demonstrated true leadership today by recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel. President Trump is a modern-day profile in courage.
The Biblical Perspective
The Bible makes it crystal clear that in the end times, the Jewish people will be regathered to their homeland in unbelief (Isaiah 11:10-12), their state will be re-established (Isaiah 66:7-8), and they will reoccupy their historic capital of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:7-8). In His last discourse to His disciples, Jesus said that one of the key end time signs that would point to His return would be the return of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).
The Hebrew prophet, Zechariah, also foresaw that the claim of the Jewish people on both their land and Jerusalem would be disputed by the Gentile nations of the world. He prophesied that the whole world would come against Israel (Zechariah 12:2-3).
Ever since the re-establishment of the State of Israel in May of 1948, the nation has been the focal point of world politics, and the status of Jerusalem has been the center of the controversy. The United Nations originally wanted to internationalize the city. The Vatican has laid claim to it. The Arabs demand that they be given exclusive sovereignty over it. The European Union, joined today by the UN, wants to divide it between the Jews and the Arabs.
President Trump’s act of recognition has inflamed the debate and the hatreds that are rooted in Satanic anti-Semitism. In that regard, his action has led to a partial fulfillment of Zechariah 12:2-3, but not to its complete fulfillment.
The fulfillment of the prophecy must await the day when all the nations of the world, including the United States, turn against Israel. That reality portends two possibilities: 1) That Trump will ultimately reverse course, or 2) That his successor will do so.
Future Relations with Israel
What could cause Trump to turn against Israel? His pride in being the ultimate deal maker. He believes he can negotiate a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Like all presidents before him, he will quickly discover that the Palestinians have no real interest in peace. They will remain intransigent, refusing to make any concessions — refusing, in fact, even to recognize the existence of Israel.
When Trump hits this brick wall, he will most likely do what his predecessors have done. He will start putting the heat on the Israeli leaders, arguing that they owe it to him to make major concessions, such as surrendering half of Jerusalem. And when the Israelis dig in their heels and refuse to budge, it is likely the Great Deal Maker will turn his wrath on them.
The other possibility, and the most likely one, is that any liberal Democrat succeeding Trump will pick up where Obama left off in his zeal to undermine the Jewish state. Remember that Obama interfered in Israel’s elections in an attempt to defeat Netanyahu. He engineered a UN resolution condemning Israel’s right to any of the so-called “occupied territories.” And he conspired behind the back of Israel to make a deal with Israel’s number one enemy, Iran — a deal that is enabling Iran to continue with the development of nuclear power. And all the while, Obama was mouthing support of Israel!
Some dark days lie ahead for Israel, but the Bible says, “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). It also says that in the end times Israel will be like David against Goliath and that the nations that come against Israel will be destroyed (Zechariah 12:8-9).
And there is a prophecy that should stand as a sober warning to our nation. It is contained in Joel 3:2. This prophecy states that any nation in the end times that gets involved in trying to divide the land of Israel will suffer the judgment of the Lord.
So, pray for President Trump to stand firm in his support of Israel, and pray for his eyes to be opened to the spiritual realities behind the political facade.
1) Benjamin Netanyahu, “Quotable Quote,” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/513129-if-the-arabs-put-down-their-weapons-todaythere-would.
2) Center for Israel Education, “Knesset Declares Jerusalem Capital of Israel,” January 23, 1950, https://israeled.org/knesset-declaresjerusalem-capital.
4) Wikipedia, “Jerusalem Law,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Law.
5) Wikipedia, “United Nations Security Council Resolution 478,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_478.
6) Heiko Stoiber, “U.S. Diplomatic Missions in Jerusalem: Background to the Jerusalem Embassy Decision,” April 8, 1999, www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/u.s.-diplomatic-missions-in-jerusalem-background-to-the-jerusalem-embassy-d, page 2.
8) CNN, Clara Lopez and Joe Sterling, “Guatemala to move embassy to Jerusalem, president says,” December 25, 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/24/middleeast/guatemala-jerusalem/index.html.
9) Haarretz newspaper, Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, “UNESCO Backs Motion Nullifying Jewish Ties to Temple Mount,” October 13, 2016, www.haaretz.com/israel-news/unesco-backs-motion-nullifying-jewish-ties-to-temple-mount-1.5449172.
10) Miami Herald newspaper, “UNESCO’s crazy vote to deny Jewish, Christian ties to Jerusalem’s holy sites,” October 21, 2016, www.miamiherald.com/ news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article109446857.html.
11) The Times of Israel news website, Raphael Ahren and Alexander Fulbright, “On Independence Day, UNESCO okays resolution denying Israeli claims to Jerusalem,” May 2, 2017, www.timesofisrael.com/on-independence-day-unesco-okays-resolution-ignoring-jewishlinks-to-jerusalem.
12) Wikipedia, “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Embassy_Act.
13) Ibid., page 4.
15) Ibid., page 5.
16) United with Israel, “US Senate Unanimously Affirms Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem, its United Capital,” June 6, 2017, https://unitedwithisrael.org/in-90-0-vote-us-senate-passes-bill-commemorating-jerusalems-reunification/.
17) The Times of Israel news website, Eric Cortellessa, “Senate unanimously passes bill marking 50 years since Jerusalem reunification,” June 6, 2017, www.timesofisrael.com/senate-unanimously-passes-bill-marking-50-years-since-jerusalem-reunification.
18) World Israel News, “World reacts with alarm, rage to US recognition of Jerusalem,” December 7, 2017, https://worldisraelnews.com/world-reacts-alarm-rage-us-recognition-jerusalem.
19) CNN, Nicole Gaouette, “Despite Haley threat, UN votes to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem decision,” December 22, 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/politics/haley-un-jerusalem/index.html.
20) Jerusalem on Line, Judith Abramson, “Israeli Arab MKs enraged at report concerning US embassy move,” December 5, 2017, www.jerusalemonline.com/news/politics-and-military/politics/mk-ayman-odeh-trump-is-a-crazy-pyromaniac-32839.
21) World Israel News, “World reacts with alarm, rage to US recognition of Jerusalem,” December 7, 2017, https://worldisraelnews.com/world-reacts-alarm-rage-us-recognition-jerusalem, page 2.
23) Aljazeera News, “Arab League condemns US Jerusalem move,” December 10, 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/arab-leaguecondemns-move-dangerous-illegal-171209185754563.html.
24) Arutz Sheva News, Ido ben Porat, “250 rabbis to Trump: Be strong and have courage,” December 12, 2017, www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/238963.
25) Breaking Israel News, Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz, “Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration Paves Way for Third Temple,” December 7, 2017, www.breakingisraelnews.com/99002/trumps-jerusalem-declaration-next-step-third-temple/#/#fRZiR8eIIxJ7Jsvx.97.
26) CNN, Jeremy Diamond and Elise Labott, “Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital,” December 6, 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/12/06/politics/president-donald-trump-jerusalem/index.html, page 3.
28) The Times of Israel news website, Staff, “Erdogan on Trump’s ‘unacceptable’ recognition: Jerusalem is ‘our red line,'” December 27, 2017, www.timesofisrael.com/turkish-president-vows-that-jerusalem-is-our-red-line.
29) United with Israel, “Netanyahu: ‘Trump has Inscribed Himself in the Annals of Our Capital,'” December 10, 2017, https://unitedwithisrael.org/netanyahu-trump-has-inscribed-himself-in-the-annals-of-our-capital.
30) Jerusalem Connection Report, “The Rewards of Standing with Israel,” December 15, 2017, Email report from firstname.lastname@example.org.