Daily Israel Report

Obama’s Policy Challenges Congressional Law on Jerusalem

A law passed by Congress in 1995 in effect recognizes post 1967 united Jerusalem."Obama ignores law for political reasons."
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/16/2010, 6:02 PM / Last Update: 3/16/2010, 6:36 PM

Israel news photo

U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy against a Jewish presence in parts of Jerusalem flies in the face of the contents of a 1995 Congressional law to relocate the American embassy in a united capital.

Congress passed the law in October 1995 after the House of Representatives approved it in a 374-37 vote and the Senate voted for it by a 93-5 margin.

Click here to see the entire Jerusalem Embassy Act and here for a current bill to cancel the waiver it contains.

Article 1 of the law states: "Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital".

Then it goes on to specifics in Article 5,6,7: ” From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan. Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.”

It also notes that “Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.”

In Article 9, the law quotes a 1990 Congressional resolution that Congress ‘‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected’’ and states in article 10 that in 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113 of the One Hundred Second Congress to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.

Since the act was passed, President Obama was the only candidate for office who did not state during his campaign that he would act to move the embassy back to Jerusalem, which was reunited in the Six-Day War in 1967. The United States and eventually every other country in the world pulled embassies out of Jerusalem following Israel’s declaring sovereignty over the city. Every president, except for President Obama, has exercised the law’s waiver that allows for delay in moving the embassy “to protect the national security interests of the United States.”

President Obama’s policy since taking office last year has been to divide the city and create a base in Jerusalem as the seat of Palestinian Authority state although the Jerusalem Embassy Act recalls previous Congressional resolutions calling for the city to remain united.

The Obama administration has continued a State Department policy, disregardng the law passed by the Congress, of not recognizing Israeli sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem, including the Old City, that were restored to the Jewish State in the Six-Day War in 1967 after Jordan conquered them in 1948.

Republican Senator Sam Brownback and six other senators last November co-sponsored a bill to require the President to execute the Congressional act by 2012, regardless of the “security” waiver. Co-sponsor Sen. Jim Inhofe flatly stated that security has not been the reason for the embassy remaining in Tel Aviv. “For political reasons, our embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv instead of in the nation's capital city,” he said.

Following this week’s standoff between the Obama and the Netanyahu governments over building for Jews in part of Jerusalem, Sen. Brownback stated, “It's hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace.

"Rather than launching verbal attacks on our staunch ally and friend, it would be far more worthwhile for this Administration to expend the effort planning for the transfer of our embassy to Jerusalem and tackling the growing Iranian nuclear threat."