US senators push to relocate embassy to Jerusalem

Image of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel [Krokodyl/ Wikipedia]

Image of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel

Three Republican senators introduced a bill to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem earlier this week.

Following through on the election pledge of Donald Trump, Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Dean Heller submitted the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act”.

The bill calls for Washington to recognise the city as “the undivided capital of the State of Israel, both de jure and de facto,” according to a report published in Haaretz yesterday.

Commenting on the bill, the Israeli newspaper said that it goes beyond just moving the embassy. It also states that the US should recognise Jerusalem as “the undivided capital of the State of Israel, both de jure and de facto,” and that “every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem.” The proposed law would also require the United States to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in any official documents.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” said Rubio. “It’s time for Congress and the president-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore US law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

The “loophole” mentioned by Rubio refers to the original Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which was passed by a large majority. That law required the United States to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem by 31 May 1999 – but it offered the presidents a way to postpone the move by signing a waiver twice a year based on “national security” concerns.

Every US president, since the act was passed singed the waiver instead of relocating the embassy, despite making promises to move the embassy. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made similar promises, but once in office, they signed waivers to avoid relocating the embassy. Hillary Clinton, too, was on record as supporting the embassy’s relocation. Barack Obama has also regularly signed the waiver – last time at the beginning of December.

The international community does not recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which it regards as a future capital of a Palestinian state. US Secretary of State John Kerry in his speech last week also reaffirmed the official State Department policy that the status of Jerusalem cannot be unilaterally decided by Israel. It does not recognise Jerusalem, even its western sections that have always been under Israeli control, as the capital. The State Department officially considers Jerusalem to have never been under the sovereignty of any country since the British Mandate ended in 1948, and is waiting for the conclusion of final status negotiations.

(Source / 05.01.2017)

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