WASHINGTON — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) expressed its disappointment in President Bush, for this month once again invoking the Presidential waiver on the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, that calls for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was the eighth such waiver for Bush, and he again cited “the national security interests of the United States” as the reasons for failing to fulfill the 1995 law.
“It’s now been ten years since this act was enacted,” said Morton A. Klein, National President of ZOA. “It’s deeply disappointing, and unacceptable,” said Klein, “that the will of Congress and the American people continues to be waived every six months.”
“The President needs to remember that Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Jewish sacred texts, and not once in the Qur’an, that in the 19 years it was controlled by Jordan, no Arab leader even visited the city; it was left to become a slum, with few homes having electricity or running water, and that Jerusalem has never served as the capital of any state occupying the region, except Israel.”
Since the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, an initiative of then-Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), U.S. law has required that the U.S. Embassy in Israel be established in Jerusalem, and over $100 million dollars was approved for the move. Failure to do so by 1999 was to have triggered severe penalties on the other constructions under the U.S. foreign aid program. But the establishment of the Embassy in Jerusalem has been postponed without penalty through the exercise of the Presidential waiver in the 1995 legislation, first by President Clinton in December 1999, and subsequently every six months by the Bush Administrations. “National security concerns,” have been consistently cited as the reason for the delay, and without real explanation.
Congressional resolutions and efforts to put the spotlight back on to the 1995 requirements have failed to alter the White House position. Even though Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, it remains the only capital city designated by the host country in which the U.S. does not maintain an embassy nor fully recognize it as the capital.