ZOA urges Obama make same pledge
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has applauded Senator John McCain’s recent pledge that, if elected president, he will move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has urged Senator Barack Obama to make a similar pledge. Senator Obama has said that he would only consider moving the embassy once the Israelis and Palestinians come close to a final-status peace agreement. Senator McCain stated that, as an affirmation of his own commitment to an “undivided Jerusalem” he would move the embassy. “Right away,” McCain said in an interview on CNN, “I’ve been committed to that proposition for years” (Amy Soberano, ‘McCain: If elected, I’d move US embassy to Jerusalem,’ Jerusalem Post, July 27, 2008).
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, adopted in October 1995 by the Senate and the House of Representatives, states that the United States‘ official policy towards Jerusalem should recognize it as the capital of Israel. It also stipulates that 50 percent of funds allocated to acquiring and maintaining official U.S. buildings abroad may not be spent if the embassy has not been reopened in Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. Yet both Presidents Clinton and Bush utilized repeatedly a waiver which gave the incumbent president the discretion of deferring the spending restriction for six months if national security interests in his judgment required it. President Bill Clinton consistently utilized the waiver and so did President George W. Bush, despite the latter having promised prior to being elected that he would move the embassy immediately upon entering office.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We applaud Senator McCain’s pledge that he will carry out U.S. law and move the embassy to Jerusalem, thereby at last extending in practical form American recognition of the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city and removing the anomaly whereby the American embassy in Israel is the only U.S. embassy anywhere in the world to be located in a city other than the capital city of the country in question.
“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 used by President Clinton in December 1999, and subsequently every six months by him and later President George W. Bush. ‘National security concerns’ have been consistently cited as the reason for the delay, and without real explanation, despite congressional resolutions and efforts to have the law applied.
“The Clinton and Bush waivers were deeply disappointing because they thwarted the will of Congress and the American people while obtaining no improvement in the prospects of peace or in national security. In fact, since 1995, we’ve only gotten the worst terror war in Israel‘s history and the terrorist group Hamas in power in Gaza. It is not moving the embassy that would complicate our ability to advance towards peace it is the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel‘s existence as a Jewish state within any borders and with any capital and their promotion of hatred and murder of Israelis in every organ of their society. Therefore, failing to move the embassy harms the cause of peace by sending a message to Palestinian and Islamist terrorists that their use and threat of terrorism pays and even intimidates the United States into submission to their demands. This only encourages more terrorism, because they see that intimidation works even with the United States. This policy is detrimental to our international war against Islamist terrorists and it is harmful to Israel.”