UN to allow display of Knesset, including references to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

UN officials balked over exhibition’s description of Jerusalem’s capital status.

By Mike Wagenheim, JNS.org

Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.*

Yes, it will need to come with an asterisk of sorts, according to the United Nations, but even that can be seen as a hard-fought win for Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan.

According to a diplomatic source, the United Nations has relented and will allow Israel to display an exhibit on Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

The world body had been conditioning its permissions on Israel agreeing to the removal of some content, including references to Jerusalem as the country’s capital. Erdan fought back, and instead, an agreement has been reached whereby all content within the display that was objected to will remain, and the Israeli mission will add a disclaimer noting the objections.

The exhibit, titled “The Knesset Celebrates 70—Parliament Shaping Israeli Society,” was previously displayed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in 2019 to mark the parliament’s 70th anniversary.

Among the content protested is an item regarding the Knesset’s passing of the 1980 law that named Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. The United Nations instructed its removal, saying that the law is not valid, according to General Assembly and Security Council decisions, and contradicts international law while holding it to be a “sensitive decision,” according to its instructions to the Israeli mission.

Israel’s claim to the entirety of the city of Jerusalem is not recognized internationally.

The United Nations also instructed Israel to remove a caption that accompanied a photo of the Knesset, describing Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of the Jewish people and their holy city.”

Erdan refused the changes and wrote a protest letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, saying “the impertinent demand of the U.N. to censor the exhibit and remove pictures that reflect our national history is, in fact, a request to rewrite Israel’s history and we will not agree to that in any way.”

The display will go up on May 19, the holiday of Lag B’Omer, with select Knesset members invited to New York to take part in the opening.