Many Israel supporters have been excited by the thought that as President Donald Trump will finally move the American Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and formally recognize the city as that nation’s capital. Now three Republican Senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, introduced a new bill on Tuesday to do exactly that.
Cruz and Rubio were joined by Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.
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It's time to do what Congress said we should do in 1995: move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel https://t.co/FlhSdUPdcE
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 3, 2017
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs, ” said Marco Rubio in a formal stetment. “It’s 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.”
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, ” added Senator Ted Cruz. “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. But 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. I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation with Senator Heller and Senator Rubio, and I look forward to working with the Trump administration to make this happen.”
— Conservative Review (@CR) January 3, 2017
But is this all just a big publicity stunt?
In 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy and Relocation Act, which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and declared that funding would only be appropriated for a new embassy there if it were to be built in Jerusalem. Many had hoped that the new U.S. Consulate compound recently opened in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood would become an embassy.
— Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller) January 3, 2017
However, only the President is empowered to make the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or to move an embassy from one city to another in any nation. The Congress cannot require this through legislation. It can only pass resolutions on the matter or threaten to defund the U.S. State Department if it does not do so.
Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio obviously know this.
American Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have used the State Department as cover for this issue. They have all cited its official position which is to hold by UN resolutions that call for Jerusalem to be an international city and no one’s capital. This is obviously disingenuous of them as the President of the United States is constitutionally empowered to make all such diplomatic decisions and the State Department does not tell him what to do.
It also needs to be remembered that both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were defeated in the Republican primaries last year by Donald Trump. This limits their ability to put political pressure on him, but they may be trying to do just that with this new bill.