New Bill: Jerusalem the Capital

US presidents have avoided a law for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital due to a “security” waiver which seven senators now want to abolish.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 7:24 PM

The Western Wall, part of "eastern Jerusalem"
The Western Wall, part of "eastern Jerusalem"
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Seven United States senators have sponsored a bill that would abolish the “security” waiver that American presidents have used to prevent implementing a 1995 law declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback, a long-time supporter of Israel, introduced the bill and said, "It is long overdue for America to recognize the sovereign right of Israel to choose Jerusalem as its capital city.”

The proposed Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act law, number S. 2737, is "a bill to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel" and has six co-sponsors--five Republicans, from Kentucky, Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana  and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

It would remove the current waiver, which gives the president authority to delay recognition of Jerusalem as the capital on the premise that doing so would endanger the security of the United States. Previous presidents, including George W. Bush, vowed during their election campaigns they would recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish State’s capital but they have failed out to carry out their election promise.

The senators introduced the bill following last week’s visit to the United States by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who said, “I believe moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will the first step towards other embassies moving to the capital, as in every other country in the world.”

U.S. policy regards eastern Jerusalem, restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, as “occupied territory" and wants the status of the city to be part of an agreement to establish the Palestinian Authority as a new Arab state on all of the land in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The Democratic party has a majority in the Congress but includes legislators who support Israeli sovereignty over all of the capital. The certain opposition of the Obama administration to Senator Brownback's bill may prevent its passage, but the proposal will bring the status of the city to center stage.

Administration officials have increasingly found it more difficult to explain to reporters their policy in the PA-Israeli struggle, particularly in light of the refusal of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel.

Abbas announced late this week that he will not run for reelection, a move that magnified recent difficulties of U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly to satisfy reporters. He was unable to tell them on Friday if government officials have been in touch with Abbas since his announcement, and instead he repeated previous statements that the Obama government considers him a “voice of moderation.”

In answer to a question on whether there should be PA elections in January in light of the division between Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Fatah, which rules Judea and Samaria, Kelly said, “The decision to hold elections is a – is really – that's a matter for the people themselves to decide.”

Reporters noted that his statement contradicted American policy of four years that was insistent that the PA holds it first legislative election, which resulted in a surprise victor for the Hamas terrorist organization.