New York – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Bush
Administration decision that the U.S. will not be officially attending the 40th Jerusalem Reunification Day festivities this week in Jerusalem, Israel. This decision comes despite the 12-year old Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls for the U.S. Embassy to Israel to be located in Jerusalem, and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The U.S. did not issue an official statement explaining why the current Ambassador, Richard Jones, will not be attending the ceremonies. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni insisted that the “connection between Israel and Jerusalem is inseparable” ( Israel National News , May 14).
Despite this development, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that he would seek to expand the borders of Jerusalem and that he hoped for eventual world acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the entire city. At a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the city in 1967, Olmert said, “The past 40 years are only the beginning. I believe, hope and pray that we will continue to work together to strengthen Jerusalem, to expand its borders, to cultivate its foundations, to build its neighborhoods” ( Haaretz , May 14).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This Bush Administration decision is deeply disappointing and misconceived. President Bush has put himself on record repeatedly and publicly as supporting recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before he became president and said ‘I will begin the process of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem on the day I’m inaugurated.’ Yet, he has exercised successive presidential waivers to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, overwhelmingly passed by Congress, that recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and mandates locating the U.S. embassy there, just as it locates all other embassies in the capital cities of foreign countries. This latest decision not to attend the Jerusalem Reunification celebrations, like his decision to exercise successive presidential waivers, simply tells the world that President Bush is not serious about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite his own earlier words and official U.S. policy. It is moreover a slap in the face to Israel, which is celebrating the unification of the city, the end of the barbed wire and military emplacements that divided and endangered the Western half of the city before 1967, and the restoration of the historic Jewish quarter that had been ransacked and largely destroyed by the illegal Jordanian Arab occupiers. “The President needs to remember that Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Jewish sacred texts, and not once in the Muslim Qur’an. He needs to recall 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. Moreover, Jerusalem has never served as the capital of any state that ever controlled it, except Israel.
“There is only one reason for President Bush’s decision: the fear of Palestinian Arab terrorism if the U.S. carries out it own policy of treating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Recent history has shown that appeasing Palestinian Arab terrorists by invoking presidential waivers and now boycotting Jerusalem Day events is tragically mistaken. Presidential waivers did not stop Palestinian terrorism or help negotiations. The Oslo terror war followed in 2000 anyway because the PA would not commit itself to a state alongside Israel. There is thus no security issue connected to the embassy waiver. To therefore hold back and now to boycott Jerusalem Day ceremonies sends a message to terrorists that U.S. policy can be held hostage to the violence of terrorists which it anyway fails to stop. This is a complete negation of the Bush Doctrine, which argues that fighting terrorism must be done without compromise.
“We applaud Prime Minister Olmert’s public statement that he will strive to strengthen, enlarge and enrich Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty and Foreign Minister Livni’s words stressing that Jerusalem is indivisible. We also applaud the efforts of Congressmen Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Mike Pence (R-IN) in introducing a resolution in Congress stating that Jerusalem ‘must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past 40 years.’ We also urge the Bush Administration to rescind this badly mistaken decision refusing to attend the Jerusalem Day ceremonies.”