• Issue: December 1999
  • Designer: A. Kalderon
  • Stamps Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate nos.: 395
  • Sheet of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

The capital of the Kingdom of David was established in Jerusalem more than three thousand years ago, and since then it has served as the religious and
spiritual center of the people of Israel during all the various stages of its history. This development took place not because of physical factors such as topography or ease of access which generally determine the site of capitals, but as a result of a decision based on religious, spiritual and historical factors. The sanctity of Jerusalem for Judaism was also the cause for its status in the two monotheistic religions linked to it - Christianity and Islam. In this context it is significant that during all the periods when the Holy Land was not ruled by Jews (except for interval of the Crusades), other cities were chosen as capitals such as Roman Caesarea and Arab Ramie. It should also be noted that Jerusalem is mentioned 656 times in the Bible, while its name does not appear at all in the Koran. In its yearning for redemption, the Jewish people made no distinction between Jerusalem and the land of Israel as a whole as expressed in the ancient saying "If I forget thee Jerusalem" and thousands years later in coining the term "Zionism". The Jews constituted the largest community in Jerusalem as early as 1840 (about half of the population). and became the majority some twenty years later. This majority was enlarged with the modern mass return of Jews to Eretz Israel, and in 1948 the number of Jews living in Jerusalem reached about 100,000, and the city became, naturally, the capital of the "state in the making".

In spite of these facts, the Zionist movement and the Jewish community had to agree in 1947 to the proposal for the internationalization of Jerusalem, in order to ensure the adoption by the General Assembly (against ferocious Arab objection) of the plan for a political settlement in the Holy Land, which envisaged the establishment of a Jewish state. The internationalization of Jerusalem was a major component of this plan, out of regard for Christian, mainly Catholic interests. However, the Arabs of Palestine and the Arab states waged a ruthless struggle against the 1947 plan and any attempt to establish an international regime Jerusalem. The U.N. and the Christians stood aloof even when the Holy City was bombarded for the first time in its history, by the Arab Legion - Moslem soldiers officered by Christians (British).

In those circumstances, the State of Israel gradually took action to make Jerusalem its capital. An important stage in this development was the opening of the first Knesset in Jerusalem, in February 1949 and the election of the president of the state and his swearing in during its proceedings there. This development matured toward the end of that year, and was accelerated by the renewal of the pressure for the internationalization of the city by the Catholic states, this time supported by the Arabs and joined by the Soviet bloc.

Thus Prime Minister Ben-Gurion declared in the Knesset, on behalf of the Government of Israel, on 13 December 1949. "The State of Israel had and will have only one capital - eternal Jerusalem".

Although the international community has not accepted this step formally, concrete relations with foreign states such as diplomatic contacts, bilateral multilcteras negotiations, official visits and the signing of international instruments, which take place in Israel, are conducted in Jerusalem,

In June 1967, during the Six Days War, the eastern part of the city was liberated and Jerusalem was once again reunited. In order to formalize the status of reunited Jerusalem as the capital of the state, the Knesset adopted on 30 July 1980 a basic law on this matter.

The number of the inhabitants of the capital is currently approximately 635,000, of whom about 68.5% are Jews, 29% Moslems, and 2.5% Christians (comprising 16 denominations).

Pinhas Eliav
Ambassador (Retired)

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Proclamation of Jerusalem as the State of Israel's Capital - 50 Years