Three Republican Senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would fulfill America’s commitment to Israel by relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move came just 12 days after the Obama administration’s abstention from the U.N. Security Council vote to condemn Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank.
Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, along with with Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas introduced the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act” to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to relocate the U.S. embassy in an effort to “remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel since 1967.”
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth – let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel- is shocking in some circles.”
Rubio said, “it is time for Congress and the President-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”
President-elect Donald Trump promised during the presidential campaign that his administration would move the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a position he shares with his nominee for Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a New York bankruptcy lawyer.
“There is an international significance and there is a political significance here,” Fox News contributor and Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News. “Trump will distinguish himself from other politicians: he made the commitment, and I think he will actually follow through with it.”
Bolton said that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would actually be quite easy. He suggested temporarily making the consulate in Jerusalem the embassy, with an official diplomatic building to be constructed at a later date.
“It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill,” Heller said.
In 1995, Congress passed “The Jerusalem Embassy and Relocation Act,” which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the promise has not been fulfilled in its 21 years.
Heller’s bill restricts funding for the State Department for fiscal year 2017 under the heading “Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance”—saying that not more than 50 percent of funding would be appropriated to the Department of State until the Secretary of State reports that the Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened.
“It is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said.
The bill was introduced in the first session of the 115th Congress, which began Tuesday.