Israel's Confidence: 'World Will Welcome Prospect
of Seeing Ancient and Historic Jerusalem Unified'
Text of Letter by Foreign Minister Abba Eban to U Thant
My Government has given careful considera-
tion to your letter of 5 July 1967 concerning res-
olution 2253 of the General Assembly. Israel's
position on Jerusalem was explained by me at the
plenary meetings of the General Assembly on 21
and 29 June 1967. In response to your letter,
the Government of Israel now takes the oppor-
tunity of reviewing recent developments in the
As a result of .aggression launched by the
Arab states against Israel in 1948, the section of
Jerusalem in which the holy places are concen-
trated had been governed for 19 years by a regime
which refused to give due acknowledgement to
universal religious concerns.
The city was divided by a military demarca-
tion line. Houses of worship were destroyed and
desecrated in acts of vandalism. Instead of peace
and security, there was hostility and frequent
bloodshed. The principle of freedom of access to
the holy places of all the three monotheistic re-
ligions was violated wtih regard to Jews but to
Reports in 1949 and 1950
The Jordan Government informed the ad hoc
Political Committee at the fourth and fifth ses-
sions of the General Assembly, on 6 December
1949 and 11 December 1950, that it would not
agree to any special arrangements for the Holy
Places. This policy was the subject of a reference
by the President of the Trusteeship Council, M.
Roger Darreau, in his report on the mission en-
trusted to him by virtue of the Trusteeship Coun-
cil resolution of 4 April 1950, in which he stated:
"I have to state with the deepest regret that
up to yesterday, when my term as President of the
Trusteeship Council came to an end, the Govern-
ment of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan had
not seen fit to break its silence.
"The Government of Israel showed a spirit of
conciliation which led it to submit to the Trustee-
ship Council certain new proposals which . . . rep-
resent a considerable advance toward a settlement
of the various aspects of the problem of Jerusalem
and the holy places."
On 5 June 1967, the Jordanian forces launched
a destructive and unprovoked armed assault on
the part of Jerusalem outside the walls. This at-
tack was made despite Israel's appeals to Jordan
to abstain from hostilities. Dozens of Jerusalem
citizens were killed and hundreds wounded.
Artillery bombardment was directed against
synagogues, the Church of Dormition, hospitals,
centers of secular and religious learning, the He-
brew University and the Israel Museum. Intensive
fire was directed against institutions and residen-
tial centers from positions in and near the holy
places themselves, which were thus converted into
military positions for shelling Jerusalem.
Holy Places Open to All
Since 7 June, the entire city of Jerusalem
has experienced peace and unity. The holy places
of all faiths hav been open to access by those
who hold them sacred.
The resolution presented on 4 July by Pakistan
and adopted on the same date evidently refers
to measures taken by the Government of Israel
on 27 June 1967. The term "annexation" used
by supporters of the resolution is out of place.
The measures adopted relate to the integration
of Jerusalem in the administrative and municipal
spheres and furnish a legal basis for the protection
of the holy places in Jerusalem.
I come now to specify the character and effect
of the measures adopted on 27 June:
1. The Holy Places
The Protection of Holy Places law 57274967
provides that "the holy places shall be protected
from desecration and any other violation and
from anything likely to violate the freedom of
access of the members of the different religions
to the places sacred to them or their feelings with
regard to those places. Whoever desecrates or
otherwise violates a holy place shall be liable to im-
prisonment for a term of seven years . . ."
During the previous 19 years there had been
no such legislation to protect the holy places in
Jerusalem. Since 27 June, sacred buildings dese-
crated since 1948 have been restored and houses
of worship destroyed during the Jordanian occupa-
tion are being rebuilt.
2. Civic Cooperation
One of the most significant results of the meas-
ures taken on 27 June is the new mingling of
Arabs and Jews in free and constant association.
The Arab residents within the walls had been
cut off for 19 years from all contact with the
residents of the newer parts of the city. Today
they are free to renew or initiate contacts with
their Jewish neighbors in Jeruslaem and elsewhere
in Israel. The residents of the city outside the
walls now visit the old city.
There is a profound human and spiritual sig-
nificance in the replacement of embattled hostility
by normal and good neighborly relations. It is
especially appropriate that ecumenical habits of
throught and action should take root in the city
from which the enduring message of human broth-
erhood was proclaimed with undying power in
3. Municipal Services
In the hills of Judea, where Jerusalem is situ-
ated, there is an acute shortage of water. The
old city is now connected with the general water
supply system, and all houses are receiving a con-
tinuous supply of water, double the quantity avail-
to them in the past.
All hospitals and clinics are already function-
ing. In the past no health services existed for
the young within the framework of the school
system, nor were there any health stations for
mother and child care. These services are now
There was no social welfare system in the
Old City. Today all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
now enjoy the same welfare rights. The muni-
cipality has already begun extending its welfare
services to those for whom none have been avail-
able in the past.
School buildings are being prepared for the
resumption of studies at the beginning of the
new school year. Teachers are being located and
arrangements made for them to return to their
work. Their salaries are paid by the municipality.
4. The Universal Interest
Compulsory education regulations have been
extended to all parts of the city. None of those
arrangements affect the existing private educa-
If these measures had not been taken, the
holy places would be without legal protection. The
unified public utilities services would not exist.
Municipal and administrative facilities would not
be extended to some sections of the city, and
Jerusalem's residents would still be divided, her-
metically confined in separate compartments.
The measures taken by my Government to
secure the protection of the holy places are only
a part of Israel's effort to insure respect for uni-
versal interests in Jerusalem.
It is evident from United Nations discussions
and documents that the international interest
in Jerusalem has always been understood to de-
rive from the presence of the holy places..
Israel does not doubt her own will and capacity
to secure the respect of universal spiritual inter-
ests. It has forthwith insured that the holy places
of Judaism, Christianity and Islam be adminis-
tered under the responsibility of the religions
which hold them sacred. In addition, in a spirit
of concern for historic and spiritual tradition, my
Government has taken steps with a view to reach-
ing arrangements to insure the universal character
of the holy places. In pursuance of this objec-
tive, the Government of Israel has now embarked
on a constructive and detailed dialogue with rep-
resentatives of universal religious interests. If
these explorations are as fruitful, as we hope
and expect, the universal character of the holy
places will for the first time in recent decades
find effective expression.
The changes which have affected Jerusalem's
life and destiny as a result of the measures recent-
ly adopted may therefore be summarized as fol-
Where there was hostile separation, there is
now harmonious civic union. Where there was
a constant threat of violence, there is now peace.
Where there was once an assertion of exclusive
and unilateral control over the holy places, ex-
ercised in sacrilegious discrimination, there is now
a willingness to work out arrangements with the
world's religious bodies—Christian, Moslem and
Jewish—which will ensure the universal religious
character of the holy places.
The Government of Israel is confident that
world opinion will welcome the new prospect of
seeing this ancient and historic metropolis thrive
in unity, peace and spiritual elevation.
‘Jerusalem Should Remain United,' Nation's
Most Distinguished Theologians' Appeal States
In a full six-column advertisement in the New York Times, under
the heading "Jerusalem Should Remain United," the nation's leading
Theologians made the following appeal:
The fate and destiny of Jerusalem impinge crucially upon the relation-
ship of Christianity to Judaism.
Judaism has as its center an indissoluble bond between the people of
Israel and the land of Israel. For Christians, to acknowledge the necessity
of Judaism is to acknowledge that Judaism presupposes inextricable ties
with the land of Israel and the city of David, without which Judaism cannot
be truly itself. Theologically, it is this dimension to the religion of Judaism
which leads us to support the reunification of the city of Jerusalem.
During the past twenty years the city of David has experienced an
artificial division. This has resulted in a denial of access to their holy places
for all Jews and for Israeli Arabs of the Muslim faith. It has also severely
limited accessibility to Christian shrines for Israeli Christians. This injustice,
we must confess, did not elicit significant protests on the part of the re-
ligious leaders of the world.
We see no justification in proposals which seek once again to destroy
the unity which has been restored to Jerusalem. This unity is the natural
condition of the Holy City, and now once again assures the world's religious
peoples the freedom of worship at the shrines which remain the spiritual
centers of their faith.
We are gratified that the sanctity and protection of the holy places
of all denominations have been assured by the Government of Israel, whose
record over the last twenty years in providing free access to Christian
18—Friday, July 14, 1967
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
shrines within her jurisdiction inspiries confidence that the interests of all
religions will be faithfully honored. This confidence is further strengthened
by Israel's offer to place the holy places under independent denominational
The new situation has also created an opportunity to come to grips
decisively with the Arab refugee problem, which must weight heavily on
the world's conscience. We use both Israel and the Arab countries to exert
new initiatives to eliminate once and for all this human suffering,within
the framework of an overall settlement of the major issues to be achieved
through direct negotiations.
This appeal was signed by the following:
Dr. Phillip Anderson, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago; Dr. Jerald C. Brauer,
Dean, University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago; Dr. Frank M. Cross, Jr. Depart-
ment of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, Cainbridge,
Mass.; Dr. William D. Davis, Professor of Biblical Theology, Union Theological Semin-
ary, New York, N.Y.; Dr. A. Roy Eckardt, Editor, Journal of the American Academy
of Religion; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.; Dr. David Freedman, San Francisco
Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, Calif.; Dr. Frederick C. Grant, Professor Emeritus
of Biblical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.; Dr. Andre La-
cocque, Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago; Dr. Edward Manthei, President,
Chicago Theological Seminary, Chicago; Dr. Robert S. Moore, Chicago Theological
Seminary, Chicago; Dr. Reinhold Neibuhr, Professor Emeritus of Ethics and Theology,
Union Theological Seminary, New York, N.Y.; Dr. Victor Obenhans, Chicago Theo.
logical Seminary, Chicago; Dr. James M. Robinson, Southern California School of
Theology, Claremont, Calif.; Dr. J. Coert Rylaarsdan, Divinity School, University of
Chicago, Chicago; Rev. Krister Stendah', Professor of Biblical Studies, Harvard Divinity
School, Cambridge; Dr. George H. Williams, Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge.