By Emily Cyr
With President Obama’s recent announcement about opening a US Embassy in Cuba, instead of looking south, some GOP candidates are turning their attention to Israel.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded to the news about Cuba by saying it is a “slap in the face” to Israel. Cruz, who is of Cuban descent, spoke on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” saying:
“How sad is it that under the Obama administration the United States is going to have an embassy in Havana before we have an embassy in Jerusalem, that this administration will be friendlier to a Communist dictator who hates America and seeks to undermine our nation, than it is willing to stand with our close friend and ally, the nation of Israel? I think it’s wrong.”
Currently, the U.S. embassy in Israel is located in Tel Aviv, and the topic of its relocation has been a source of controversy for years.
In 1995, The Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed to allow the relocation of this embassy but there is a Presidential Waiver that states “for a period of six months if he [The President] determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States”.
While Cruz and other candidates have stated they support the removal of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, they are not the first candidates to do so. Both Republicans and Democrats have campaigned on a platform of relocating the embassy but both have failed to implement it when in office. 20 years and three presidents later, this waiver is applied consistently, every six months, with the most recent block on June 3rd , citing “national security interests” as justification.
The act passed with bipartisan congressional support, but remains unfulfilled. The tables are turned for the Cuban embassy, which requires Congressional approval for any funds towards the embassy and Senate approval for the President’s eventual nominee for ambassador to Cuba.
Cruz, Rubio and other senators have indicated they will do what they can to block any nomination, but it looks like we will see an embassy in Havana before Jerusalem.