371. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1

8927. Subject: Knesset Bill on Jerusalem. Ref: State 127291.2

1. (C-entire text).

2. The bill referred to in reftel was not “passed” by the Knesset, but was merely given a preliminary reading and referred to committee, where it is virtually certain to languish indefinitely. Any responses to press inquiries should reflect this fact.

3. The bill, which was introduced by Tehiya MK Geula Cohen to coincide with Jerusalem unification day, was primarily a publicity stunt by the theatrical right-wing MK. It contains three clauses: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; the integrity and the unity of greater Jeru [Page 1243] salem, as delineated after the Six-Day War, shall not be impaired; the President of the State, the Knesset, the government, and the High Court, shall all have their permanent seat in Jerusalem. Virtually all Knesset factions were in agreement that such a law would be essentially superfluous, because most of its content has been basic GOI policy since East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967. To vote against such a bill, however, would be to oppose motherhood and matzah balls. Hence, rather than moving to strike the bill from the agenda, the Knesset voted to refer it to the law committee, chaired by Dovish NRP MK David Glass. Only the communists and Sheli voted “no”.

4. MK’s with whom we spoke did not expect the bill even to be seriously debated in committee. Should it somehow come up, however, the alignment faction has prepared its own bill which would supplement Cohen’s draft with provisions that guarantee the status of all the holy places, guarantee equal rights and responsibilities for minorities in Jerusalem, grant Jerusalem preference with regard to development and public resources, and give Ministerial status to the Mayor of Jerusalem.

5. The foregoing has been discussed with ConGen Jerusalem.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800240–0356. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information Immediate to Amman, Cairo, and Jerusalem.
  2. Telegram 127291 to Tel Aviv, May 14, provided guidance for dealing with press questions related to the Knesset bill on Jerusalem. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800239–0289)