ZOA Praises Sen. Brownback’s Bill To Remove Presidential Waiver From Law Calling For U.S. Embassy In Israel To Be Moved To Jerusalem
November 5, 2009


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) for announcing plans to introduce legislation in Congress that would remove the presidential waiver from the law calling for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The legislation mandating the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem became law in 1995 and was approved by over 90% of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.


At present, the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law (Public Law 104-45) permits the U.S. president to cite national security considerations to waive the implementation of the law for six months mandating the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all exercised the use of this waiver every six months since 1995. This has occurred despite the fact that, at the time of its passage, then-Senator Majority Leader Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) co-sponsors of the bill, made it clear from the floor of the Senate that the waiver contained in the bill should never be used except for the most serious national security reasons which would have to be explained to Congress. Yet the waiver continues to be used every six months. Senator Brownback’s bill, the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 2009, would put an end to this practice (Eric Fingerhut, ‘Brownback wants to remove the waiver in embassy law,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 3, 2009).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We thank Senator Brownback, a long-standing close friend of Israel, for introducing this bill. By moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the United States would be righting an anomaly by bringing the location of its embassy in Israel into conformity with its practice in every other country in the world in which the U.S. has diplomatic representation whereby the U.S. Embassy is located in the capital city of the country in question.


“The ZOA has argued consistently over the years for the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Law and has opposed the consistent use of the presidential waiver by now three presidents. Senator Brownback’s bill would provide the means to eliminate the current situation which encourages appeasement of violent Arab forces by enabling presidents to cite national security reasons for exercising the waiver without ever actually stating what national security interests are threatened by implementing the law.


“Thus, for example, President Clinton exercised his waiver in June 1999 saying that to move the Embassy at that time would put at risk ‘a successful conclusion to the Middle East peace process.’  Yet the subsequent failure of Oslo didn’t change anything and the waiver is still used without fail. No one has explained why the U.S. must abstain from acting on its own law until there is an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.


“When U.S. presidents claim that national security considerations lead them to exercise the waiver, what are they really saying? The following – that terror attacks might be mounted against the U.S. or U.S. interests if the law is implemented. Yet on no other subject would any president decide not to implement the law because lawless and murderous extremists might target us as a result. Congress decides what the law is, not terrorists.


“The U.S. hasn’t moved the embassy since the law was enacted in 1995, which has not in any way improved the possibilities of peace. In fact, we’ve only gotten the worst terror war in Israel’s history and the terrorist group Hamas in power in Gaza. Moving the U.S. Embassy would not, as is often claimed in defense of the use of the waiver, 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 culture that prevents peace. The U.S. should not be appeasing these forces by refusing to move the U.S. Embassy.


“The refusal of U.S. presidents to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem actually harms the cause of peace by sending a message to Palestinian Arab 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. This policy is detrimental to our international war against Islamist terrorists. It also harms Israel’s long-standing position that Jerusalem is its capital.


“We strongly urge American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to make their voices heard, loud and clear, in support of Senator Brownback’s bill. We dare not be intimidated by and appease terrorists.”



Our Mission
The ZOA speaks out for Israel – in reports, newsletters, and other publications. In speeches in synagogues, churches, and community events, in high schools and colleges from coast to coast. In e-mail action alerts. In op-eds and letters to the editor. In radio and television appearances by ZOA leaders. Always on the front lines of pro-Israel activism, ZOA has made its mark.
  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
    We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
    We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
    We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.