The Gerrymander of Jerusalem

Prior to 1967 there were 14 Embassies of foreign countries in Jerusalem. This was hardly surprising as Jerusalem was declared as the Capital of Jerusalem by the new-born state. Jerusalem is where the Knesset and administrative centres of the State of Israel are located. All these embassies were located in Western area Jerusalem within the Green Line -- -- the armistice line established at the concluson of the 1948-9 War.

It is e‪xtraordinary that following the 1967 Six Days War all of these embassies closed, mostly to relocate to Tel Aviv.

The aim of this web page is to explain, and we point the finger at the Australian H.V. Evatt, who championed the creation of an extraordinary oversized International Jerusalem.

HV (Doc) Evatt was head of UNSCOP -- the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine -- whose role was to consider the future of the Palestine once the UK withdrew from the mandate at a date initially specified to be August 1, 1948 -- later changed to midnight May 14 of that year.

The UK had definite plans for the outcome of its withdrawal. In 1946 the portion of Palestine East of the Jordan -- was declared a self governing kingdom, with the former Emir designated as King. Jordan was provided with a full fledged army, arms and ammunition, and highly experienced British Officers, including a British Lieutenant General, know as Glubb Pasha, to lead. In addition to supplying planes and training for both the Jordan and Egypt Britain maintained airfields for these newly formed Air Forces.
West of the Jordan -- the remanant of Palestine once Transjordan had been excised -- there was a Jewish community body -- the Jewish Agency -- with clear potential to become the prime political entity once.

"Doc" Evatt was Chairman of the UN General Assembly, when Israel was admitted as a full member of the UN. This connection has lead some to see him in the role of midwife in the re-birth of the historic state of Israel, whose last coins were minted during the revolt against the Romans. But Evatt played a crucial role in the events leadng up to this decision as chairman of UNSCOP the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. This Committee essentially adopted thr infamous White Paper of the British Government which proposed to divide the mandated territory of Palestine West of the Jordan River into three zones:
  • Jewish controlled
  • Arab controlled
  • Area of continued International Control

The UNSCOP Report as tabled included this statement as for the rationale for an Internationalised Jerusalem:

"To protect and to preserve the unique spiritual and religious interests located in the city of the three great monotheistic faiths throughout the world, Christian, Jewish and Moslem; to this end to ensure that order and peace, and especially religious peace, reign in Jerusalem."

These noble words might well be seen as applicable to the OLD CITY of Jerusalem which in part at least might be comparable to say Vatican City of 44ha The Old City (Hebrew: הָעִיר הָעַתִּיקָה‬, Ha'Ir Ha'Atiqah, Arabic: البلدة القديمة‎, al-Balda al-Qadimah) is a 90ha [ 0.9 square kilometers ] (0.35 sq mi) walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem.

But for reasons that are far from clear, UNSCOP was lead by Evatt NOT to attempt to demarcate an area of special religious significance to three faiths -- but a larger region -- to be simply termed Jerusalem. And that this large region was to be "Internationalised"

But Evatt faced severe problems in credibility: the problem of the Jewish majority in and around Jerusalem.

  • From the middle of the nineteenth century, there had been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem as reported by many independent observers -- one of whom was the American journalist/writer Journalist Mark Twain
  • There was a massive Jewish majority within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries.
But his Australian experience with gerrymandering lead Evatt to a remarkable exercise in city planning. Under his leadership, UNSCOP set out Jerusalem boundaries 20 to 35 km beyond the municipal boundaries then extant, to extend even as far as Bethlehem. This tension covered many Arab villagers, such that in the enormously enlarged Jerusalem there USCOP could claim there to be close to near-equal numbers of Jews and Arabs.

This strange (and almost irrelevant) claim for the huge Internationalised Jerusalem, was bolsted by a further piece of deliberate sloppiness introduced by Evatt: the use of old census data. But the really huge elephant in the room was UNSCOP's policy of ignoring the existence of Holocaust survivors in great numbers in DP camps in Europe clamouring to return to their ancient homeland. [One poll taken in DP camps found that 98.4% Jews there wished to go to "Palestine".]

One must at this stage mention that that this date there were 1.2 millin Jews living as dhimmis ( persons of reduced rights subject to a special tax ) within Arab lands and Iran. Arab spokesmen had already threatened members of these Jewish communities with expulsion plus violence if any Jewish state was established -- matters that a truly responsible UN committee ought to have at least acknowledged. UNSCOP appears to have accepted in advance the expulsion of these Jews from outside Palestine -- with no place to go -- but not indicated how this would alter the population ratios with Palestine which alone could provde a haven for the expelled Jews.

  • In Bagdad Iraq, on June 1–2, 1941, the Jewish population were the victim of a massive pogrom referred to as the Farhud (Arabic: الفرهود )
  • In Tripoli, Libya, on November 5, 1945, anti-Jewish riots broke out a, with more than 140 Jews killed in and around the city over the course of three days.
--> April 8, 1999