After years of kicking the can down the road on whether to move the American embassy in Israel out of Tel Aviv, the diplomatic corps could be saying ‘next year in Jerusalem’ – no matter who wins the race for the White House.
Despite President Obama once again signing an order on Wednesday delaying implementation of a plan approved by Congress more than 20 years ago to move the embassy — both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the likely presidential nominees of their respective parties, have expressed support for moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
This raises the possibility that the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act’s directive to relocate the embassy could actually go forward in 2017.
To date, successive presidents of both parties have ignored it citing security interests. Obama did so again on Wednesday, using a presidential waiver to suspend the implementation for another six months.
Jason Stverak, legislative director of the Christians United for Israel Action Fund, called the move “yet another example of the disconnect between President Obama’s and the American peoples’ attitude towards Israel.” His group, along with other pro-Israel organizations and lawmakers, contend that Jerusalem is the “undivided capital of the Jewish state” and want U.S. policy to reflect that, in part by relocating the embassy.
There are no signs the Obama White House would change course before January.
But post-inauguration is another matter.
Trump in March assured the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that he wants to move the embassy to Jerusalem, calling it the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Clinton has not weighed in specifically on the issue this year, but has been bolstering her pro-Israel credentials in recent months and said she wants to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.
And back in 1999, when running for U.S. Senate in New York, Clinton did say she supported the embassy move.
"[Y]ou can be sure that I will be an active, committed advocate for a strong and secure Israel, able to live in peace with its neighbors, with the United States Embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem," she wrote in a letter to the Orthodox Union, according to a CNN report.
Neither campaign responded to a FoxNews.com request for comment on the embassy issue.
Clinton, though, in 1999 included a caveat that would seem to leave wiggle room. She said: "Of course, the timing of such a move must be sensitive to Israel's interest in achieving a secure peace with its neighbors.”
The 1995 law called for the U.S. embassy to be established in Jerusalem no later than May 1999. However, it allowed the president to suspend the terms for six months if necessary to protect national security interests; every president since Bill Clinton has done so, amid complaints that the law infringes on executive power.
Multiple attempts have been made to bring the act out of legislative limbo, most recently a 2015 bill to withhold State Department funds until the move was complete.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who sponsored the bill, said he is still fighting for it.
“I will continue urging every U.S. President to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the U.S. has already committed to doing. I will be pushing for my bill, the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, until this becomes a reality,” Heller said in a statement to FoxNews.com.
Fox News’ Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.