A group of more than 100 members of Congress wrote to President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, urging him to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem “as soon as you take office,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.
Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a campaign pledge of Trump’s. His campaign manager Kellyanne Conway indicated last month that moving the embassy to Jerusalem "is a very big priority” for Trump, while media reports in Israel at the time indicated the transition team for Trump is already looking into possible locations in Jerusalem for the embassy.
The letter from the Congressmen was spearheaded by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), reported the Free Beacon. It urges Trump to send a message to the world that the United States views Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” according to the missive.
“We write to express support for this policy and to urge you to take swift action to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem as soon as you take office,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Israel is one of the United States’ closest allies and stands alone in the Middle East for its commitment to democratic ideals. Moving the embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital,” they added.
“This action is all the more urgent in light of the anti-Israel Resolution 2234, adopted by the United Nations Security Council on December 23, 2016,” the lawmakers write, a reference to the resolution criticizing Israeli “settlement building” which the Obama administration allowed to pass by abstaining in the vote.
Resolution 2334, the lawmakers wrote, “invites renewed diplomatic hostility and economic warfare against Israel, and we must act urgently to mitigate its consequences and to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to Israel.”
“We hope that you will stand with Israel on this important issue, and we look forward to working with you in the years ahead on similar matters,” they continued.
DeSantis told the Free Beacon in a statement that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would send a clear message that America stands with the Jewish people and does not view their claims to Jerusalem as illegitimate.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the U.S. should maintain its embassy in Israel’s capital city,” DeSantis told the news website. “For decades, the State Department has indulged the conceit that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, even though the Jewish presence in Jerusalem goes back thousands of years. I encourage President Trump to send a message to the world that the United States stands with our friends in Israel by relocating our embassy to Jerusalem.”
The letter is the latest Congressional move backing Trump’s campaign pledge. Last week, three Republican senators unveiled legislation that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's official capital and move the U.S. Embassy there.
The new legislation, entitled the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, was introduced by Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Dean Heller of Nevada and Marco Rubio of Florida.
American presidents from both parties have long called for Jerusalem's status to be resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as part of a larger peace deal. But there has been persistent congressional support for moving the U.S. Embassy, most notably in 1995, when Congress passed a similar measure.
The 1995 measure allowed the President to exercise a waiver delaying the move. That waiver must be renewed every six months, which U.S. presidents have repeatedly done, with President Barack Obama signing the latest waiver at the start of December.