Two decades in the making, a group of Republican Senators has come together in an attempt to finally move the embassy in Israel to the true center of the country, Jerusalem. The current location is Tel Aviv. This does not line up with a change made several years ago that recognized Jerusalem as the best choice for its location.
According to a statement released Senator Ted Cruz on behalf of the group:
“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this resolution. It is time for the United States to implement a law that Congress passed more than two decades ago, formally recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
The act is known as the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act.” It was sponsored by Senators Cruz, Graham, Rubio and Heller. The historical significance of the city of Jerusalem plays a pivotal role in why this resolution was made.
The reasons behind this realignment of the location of the Embassy include many factors that point to the current position no longer representing the heart of Israel. Dating back to 1950, Jerusalem has been recognized as the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is already host to most of the major parts of the government of Israel including the seat of the president, Parliament, Supreme Court, and numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
Beyond the role of the city in the government of Israel, there is also the religious significance of Jerusalem to be considered. It is widely recognized as the spiritual center of Judaism. It is also viewed by many other religions as a holy and spiritual destination.
This resolution also pays tribute to the changes in Jerusalem in 1967 as it became a unified city with protections for a broad range of faiths and ethnicities. This part of the resolution may seem outdated for some considering the conflicts, but there is also a provision to encourage on-going understanding and unity. In the words of the formal decree:
“Whereas, this year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and reaffirm the congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city;
Whereas every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem;
Whereas the President and the Secretary of State should publicly affirm as a matter of United States policy that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
This new act would serve as an official call to action to move the implementation of the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104–45) forward. This is an action that has been a long time coming. This also has an effect on United States foreign policy as the new act includes the following language:
“Whereas United States officials should refrain from any actions that contradict United States law on this subject; and
Whereas any official document of the United States Government which lists countries and their capital cities should identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—
(1) it should be the policy of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel both de jure and de facto; and
(2) the United States Embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem.”
This move comes as President Trump prepares for his first trip to the Jewish State. There is a lot of hope for a new fix for longstanding problems with Israel. During the Obama administration, many pointed to the relationship between the United States and Israel as reaching an all time low. The following passage from a report dating back to 2015 explains the trouble between the two countries:
“These are turbulent times for the relationship between Israel and its closest ally, the U.S.
In part, it is due to the lack of chemistry between the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US President, Barack Obama. But there are issues of substance too.
Their difficult relationship was hardly improved by Mr Netanyahu’s decision, during Israel’s recent general election campaign, to accept an invitation from the Republican Party leadership to give a joint address to Congress.
The Israeli prime minister used this as an opportunity to lobby against the nuclear deal that Mr Obama is seeking to negotiate with Tehran.
Then there is also the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.”
It seems there may be a lot more at stake than just re-vitalizing a long forgotten law in the United States. Many are hopeful of the chances to move forward into a better relationship with Isreal and focus on a shared set of ideas for the future.
Whether the relationship is stressed after the Obama White House or is well on it’s way to recovery, this resolution may be the next step in moving forward. A recent report about the relationship stated:
“If one were forced to reduce the explanation for the unique relationship between the United States and Israel to one sentence, it was probably best expressed by Lyndon Johnson who, when asked by Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin why the U.S. supported Israel when there are 80 million Arabs and only three million Israelis, the President replied simply: “Because it is right.”