WATCH | Israel's ambassador to the United States says his nation is ready for America to officially view Jerusalem as the capital.
Trump made campaign promise to shift US policy on Jerusalem
President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the Israeli government believes that will send a message to those attempting to delegitimize its claim on the city.
'It will always be our capital'
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, has met with Trump a number of times. He said Trump's campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will let world leaders know that Israel's claim on the city is not up for debate.
"Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It's the seat of our government. It's always been the seat of our government. It will always be our capital,” said Dermer in an exclusive interview with Circa. “I think it’s high time that the leadership around the world recognize that fact.”
A city divided
Jerusalem has been one of the most divisive issues among Israel, its neighboring countries and the Palestinians. Israel captured the western part of the city in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war, while Jordan took control of the eastern section.
In 1947, the United Nations recommended Jerusalem be designated an international city with no Jewish state or Arab claims to it.
But in 1967, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. After the war, Israel took control of eastern Jerusalem and declared the city as its capital. Most countries, including the United States, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv because of ongoing political debate about the fate of a Palestinian state.
Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who recently traveled to neighboring Jordan, said Jordanians "were more concerned about Mr. Trump's stance on that issue than anything he said about Syria."
Holy site for three religions
"Jerusalem is seen as -- and is -- very much a holy site for three Abrahamic religions, not just one. Therefore, there are religious implications to the idea of any one country controlling" the city, O'Hanlon said. "Israel right now, of course, controls virtually all of Jerusalem, but not everyone's happy about that."
The Palestinian Authority, however, would want Jerusalem to be shared in some way for any "future peace and a two-state solution," O’Hanlon added.
The controversy that is Jerusalem
Dermer, however, said Israel has confronted numerous obstacles from states that refuse to recognize its right to exist.
He added that the move by the United States to recognize Jerusalem will put America in a unique leadership role and challenge those who question Israel's claim of Jerusalem.
"It will send a message to all those people that are trying to delegitimize Israel’s rights in Jerusalem," Dermer said.
Jewish connection to Jerusalem
"People like UNESCO, who voted actually for a resolution that said that the Jewish people don't have historical connection to Jerusalem, to the Temple Mount, to our Western Wall, as the Prime Minister said recently at the U.N.
"That’s like saying there is no connection between the Great Wall of China and China."