President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday called on the world’s nations to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move their embassies to the city.
Minutes after the United Nations’ cultural agency voted on a resolution denying Israel’s ties to the city, the president told foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel that it was “absurd” that the world refuses to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
“It is time to put an end to the absurd. It is time to recognize Jerusalem, as the official capital of the State of Israel. De facto, not just de jure. It is time to move all the official embassies here. To Jerusalem,” he said at an Independence Day reception for ambassadors to Israel and other members of the diplomatic corps at his official residence in Jerusalem.
Foreign dignitaries have been coming to Jerusalem for 70 years to participate in official meetings at the Knesset, the President’s Residence and the Prime Minister’s Office, Rivlin said. Addressing the gathered diplomats directly, the 77-year-old Rivlin said that when most of them were born, Jerusalem was already Israel’s capital city.
“You were born to the fact of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. You know no other reality. Since the days of King David, there was not, there is not, and there never will be any other reality,” he said.
Rivlin’s comments come at a time when Jerusalem’s status has been raised as a matter of deliberation. During his election campaign, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to recognize the city as Israel’s capital and move the country’s embassy there, though the subject has since been put on the back-burner and the Palestinians have bitterly opposed such a move.
Last month, Russia said it considers West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, making it the first country in the world to extend such recognition to any part of the city.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement.
In his speech Tuesday to the foreign diplomats, which included the ambassadors of Egypt and Jordan, Rivlin said Jerusalem has always been at the heart of the Jewish people’s national home.
“Jerusalem has always been the center of the Jewish world. The place we have prayed toward for thousands of years. There was never any doubt, that Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel. And 50 years ago, we returned to the Old City of Jerusalem. We united the whole city under Israeli sovereignty,” he said, referring to the 1967 Six Day War.
“We felt then that the dream of Jerusalem as the physical and spiritual capital of Israel had finally become a reality,” he added.