US Senate passes bill marking 50 years of Jerusalem reunification

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, the U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution on Monday, June 5, asserting that “Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel.”

The resolution follows President Donald Trump’s formal deferment last week of the congressional mandate to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. The senators also reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and called on the president and all U.S. officials to follow its provisions.

Voting 90-0 the Senate acknowledged that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. The resolution also asserted that “the rights of every ethnic and religious group should be protected” in the city.

Although the resolution has been well received in some Jewish circles — particularly as it combats a recent UNESCO resolution which denied Israel’s sovereign claim to Jerusalem — there is a controversial element to this senatorial vote.

In addition to its other statements, the resolution clearly and strongly affirms America’s “longstanding” policy that a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “can only be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions for a sustainable two-state solution.”

This promotion of the two-state solution may cause consternation in Zionist communities.

When, at the end of last year, the Senate brought out Resolution 6 by way of supporting Israel and objecting to UN Resolution 2334 (which stated Israeli West Bank settlements are illegal), it also referred to the U.S. vision for “achieving a two-state solution.”

At that time Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, called on the Senate to refrain from promoting the “dangerous” two state solution. Klein told reporters in January this year:  “The U.S. should not be in the business of promoting such a “solution” on the sovereign state of Israel. The ZOA thus strongly urges the Senate to revise Resolution 6.”

Nevertheless, the language in this last resolution is far stronger and clearer in its promotion of the two state solution than resolution 6 was. This is particularly seen in its assertion that a solution to the conflict “can only” be achieved through a progression toward two states.

The Senate’s resolution comes before the Western date of the reunification of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was united on June 7, 1967, but Israel’s official Jerusalem Day appears on a different date on the Gregorian calendar as it goes by the 28th of Iyar, the Hebrew date on which the Israeli army took back the eastern part of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.