United Nations Security Council Resolution 478
United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Security Council Resolution 478
, adopted on August 20, 1980, declared Israel's 1980 Jerusalem Law
Jerusalem Law
The Jerusalem Law is a common name of Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel passed by the Knesset on July 30, 1980 .It began as a private member's bill proposed by Geula Cohen, whose original text stated that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem in its boundaries after the Six-Day War...

 a violation of international law, and states that the Council will not recognize this law, and calls on member states to accept the decision of the council. This resolution also calls upon member states to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the city. The law declared Jerusalem to be Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's "complete and united" capital.

The resolution was passed with 14 votes to none against, with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


Reception and criticism

Israel categorically rejected the resolution and announced that "It will not undermine the status of Jerusalem as the capital of a sovereign Israel and as a united city which will never again be torn apart".

In remarks made to the Council U.S. Secretary of State
Secretary of State
Secretary of State or State Secretary is a commonly used title for a senior or mid-level post in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the Government....

 Edmund Muskie
Edmund Muskie
Edmund Sixtus "Ed" Muskie was an American politician from Rumford, Maine. He served as Governor of Maine from 1955 to 1959, as a member of the United States Senate from 1959 to 1980, and as Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter from 1980 to 1981...

 said "The question of Jerusalem must be addressed in the context of negotiations for a comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace."

The draft resolution before us today is illustrative of a preoccupation which has produced this series of unbalanced and unrealistic texts on Middle East issues. It fails to serve the goal of all faiths that look upon Jerusalem as holy. We must share a common vision of that ancient city's future-- an undivided Jerusalem, with free access to the Holy Places for people of all faiths.

With respect to the section of the draft resolution relating to the transfer of embassies from Jerusalem, the Secretary of State said that the resolution was "fundamentally flawed" and that the U.S. considered that the instruction that states remove their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem, "not binding" and "without force", and that "we reject it as a disruptive attempt to dictate to other nations." He also said that The United States would forcefully resist any attempt to impose sanctions on Israel under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Shlomo Slonim said that despite its forceful tone, Muskie's statement did not really elucidate the American position on Jerusalem. It made no reference to Jerusalem as an occupied territory, but neither did it deny such a status. He noted that America's policy regarding Jerusalem at the end of 1980 continued to be marked by a considerable degree of ambiguity and confusion.

Decisions regarding illegal situations

Two of the decisions contained in the resolution concerned the illegality of the Basic Law Jerusalem and violations of the Geneva Convention which are regarded as serious violations of customary international law. The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs is a legal publication, which analyzes and records the decisions of the UN organs. It states that the decisions were adopted by the Security Council acting on behalf of the members under Article 24. Although they were not adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, the organization considers determinations regarding illegal situations to be binding upon all of its members. The Repertory says: "The question whether Article 24 confers general powers on the Security Council ceased to be a subject of discussion following the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice rendered on 21 June 1971 in connection with the question of Namibia (ICJ Reports, 1971, page 16)."

The subsequent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 expressed the view that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation in and around East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...


Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, Ramat Gan or Herzliya
Herzliya is a city in the central coast of Israel, at the western part of the Tel Aviv District. It has a population of 87,000 residents. Named after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, Herzliya covers an area of 26 km²...

  following the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

 has its in nearby Jerusalem suburb Mevasseret Zion.

Full Text of Resolution 478

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolution 476 (1980),

Reaffirming again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible,

Deeply concerned over the enactment of a "basic law" in the Israeli Knesset proclaiming a change in the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, with its implications for peace and security,

Noting that Israel has not complied with resolution 476 (1980),

Reaffirming its determination to examine practical ways and means, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, to secure the full implementation of its resolution 476 (1980), in the event of non-compliance by Israel,

1. Censures in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the "basic law" on Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions;

2. Affirms that the enactment of the "basic law" by Israel constitutes a violation of international law and does not affect the continued application of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since June 1967, including Jerusalem;

3. Determines that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent "basic law" on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith;

4. Affirms also that this action constitutes a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East;

5. Decides not to recognize the "basic law" and such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem and calls upon:

(a) All Member States to accept this decision;

(b) Those States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the present resolution before 15 November 1980;

7. Decides to remain seized of this serious situation.

See also

  • Jerusalem Law
    Jerusalem Law
    The Jerusalem Law is a common name of Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel passed by the Knesset on July 30, 1980 .It began as a private member's bill proposed by Geula Cohen, whose original text stated that "the integrity and unity of greater Jerusalem in its boundaries after the Six-Day War...

  • Jerusalem Embassy Act
    Jerusalem Embassy Act
    The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999, and...

  • Israeli–Palestinian conflict
    Israeli–Palestinian conflict
    The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

  • List of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 401 to 500 (1976 – 1982)
  • Positions on Jerusalem
    Positions on Jerusalem
    There are differing legal and diplomatic positions on Jerusalem held within the international community. Governments and scholars alike are divided over the legal status of Jerusalem under international law. Most countries of the world do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Many do not...

External links

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