Members of Congress have introduced legislation that would transfer the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, sending a message of commitment and resolve to Israel and also presenting the U.S. government with a cost-saving measure at a time of major budget cuts.
The bipartisan bill, known as the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act (H.R. 2846), comes as Israelis and Palestinians are resuming peace negotiations after a three-year hiatus, and is intended to offer an unflinching sign of support on Capitol Hill for Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital.
The bill, which is being sponsored by Representatives Trent Franks (R-AZ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Gene Green (D-TX), Juan Vargas (D-CA), is now being circulated among members of Congress.
The initiative is unique because it recommends that the United States government either repurpose the current Embassy property in Tel Aviv to a consulate, or sell the property, which has the potential to garner an estimated hundred million dollars at market value.
"The United States was the first nation to recognize Israel's sovereignty, a mere 11 minutes after the new state was formed in 1948. Today, 65 years later, Israel remains a uniquely precious ally. Just as the United States has assisted the Jewish people in restoring their ancient state, it is only fitting that we lead the way in recognizing Jerusalem for what it is: the undivided, eternal capital of Israel," said Congressman Tent Franks.
"It is long overdue for the U.S. government to relocate our embassy to Israel's capital, Jerusalem," said Congressman Brad Sherman. "Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 1995. It is time to follow through on our commitment."
"For historical, biblical and moral reasons, we are committed to the unity of Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital with no waivers and no caveats," said Congressman Doug Lamborn. "Our unflinching support is especially crucial at this critical hour of turbulence throughout the region."
"I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. I voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which called for the American Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, and this new legislation will assure that the intent of the 1995 law is finally fulfilled," Congressman Gene Green.
"As an ardent supporter of our greatest ally in the region, I believe that transferring our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will reaffirm our commitment to the state of Israel," said Congressman Juan Vargas. "As a continuation of over 3,000 years of Jewish history, Jerusalem must remain the undivided and eternal capital of Israel."
Successive U.S. administrations including Presidents Clinton Bush and Obama have repeatedly used the presidential waiver to delay moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in accordance with a 1995 law which authorized the embassy's relocation but which gave the President the power to postpone its implementation every six months.