The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon President Donald Trump to honor his pre-election promise to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, and not to exercise the presidential waiver in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy law that has enabled successive presidents to defer this move for six months at a time for the past 22 years.
The President must either announce the move or utilize the presidential waiver on December 1.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein issued the following statement:
“The Jerusalem Embassy law was passed by massive majorities in the Senate (93–5) and House (374–37). But it has remained a dead letter for 22 years due to the waiver which enables the President to defer for six months implementing the law on the grounds of national security.
“Yet, at the time of the passage of the law, then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole explicitly stated that the waiver could only be used for emergency cases of national security concern and that repeated use should be invalidated by amending the law to remove the waiver.
“In short, it was understood that the law should be acted upon as soon as possible and only deferred for overwhelming, cogent reasons of national security. Instead, successive presidents, merely by citing national security concerns, but without explaining or justifying their acts in any way, have simply repeatedly waived the application of the law every six months for a period of 22 years.
“Throughout, the argument has been that the Israeli/Palestinian so-called peace process would be imperiled by moving the embassy and invite Palestinian wrath and violence.
“In point of fact, peace is today further off than it was 22 years ago. The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to violate their Oslo Accords obligations to arrest and jail terrorists, disband terrorist organizations and end the incitement to hatred and murder that suffuse the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps.
“The PA refuses Trump Administration demands to end paying salaries to jailed terrorists and stipends to their families.
“Put simply, deferring moving the embassy for 22 years achieved precisely nothing for the cause of peace.
“Moving the embassy now would be the right thing for several reasons.
“Doing so would bring US practice into conformity with its general practice elsewhere, which is to locate the US embassy in the designated capital city of the country in question.
“Relocating the embassy to Jerusalem would in no way prejudice the contours of any eventual peace settlement with the Palestinian Arabs that might emerge, should they ever be willing to agree to one.
“President Trump spoke in his inaugural address of the imperative of ‘eradicating from the face of the earth’ radical Islamic terrorism. It ill-serves his credibility and thus American interests to fail to implement an emphatic, explicit commitment to move the embassy because of PA threats of violence.
“The idea that foreign policy is to be determined by threats of murderous force by terrorists is unworthy of a sovereign country, let alone the United States.
“Moving the embassy would not endanger recent Israeli/Arab cooperation. Arab cooperation with Israel is grounded in strategy and self-interest: resisting Iran’s march to nuclear weapons. Whatever Arab leaders might fear, they are not about to jettison any cooperation they deem vital to their larger national interests.
“It would also correctly indicate the centrality of Jerusalem to Israeli and Jewish history. Jerusalem is the biblical Jewish capital, site of the biblical temples and a city in which Jews have been a majority since the middle of the nineteenth century. Jerusalem has never been that holy or important to Muslims.
“While mentioned almost seven hundred times in the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Quran and never served as the capital of any Muslim state. Even when the eastern half of the city had been illegally occupied and annexed by Jordan (1948-67), Amman remained the Jordanian capital. Jordan built its royal residence and university in Amman. Friday prayers were made from a mosque in Amman, not Al Aqsa in Jerusalem.
“No Arab ruler, other than Jordanian monarchs, visited the city while it was under Jordanian rule. Moreover, under Jordan, eastern Jerusalem stagnated and was underdeveloped, lacking often running water and electricity while its christian population declined.
“Jerusalem’s tremendous growth and prosperity, as well as genuine protection of religious freedom for adherents of all faiths, has only been a reality under Israeli jurisdiction.
“Lastly, moving the embassy could prove beneficial to the cause of peace. Far from harming peace prospects, moving the embassy to Jerusalem would correct an historic anomaly and unambiguously recognize the reality of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital. It might also serve to dissipate the unrealistic Palestinian ambition that Israel can be detached from Jerusalem, which is itself an impediment to peace prospects.
“Deferring or refusing to move the embassy inflates this aspiration. This is scarcely a signal that the US should wish to send. America’s reputation and reliability, and the opportunity to remove an obstacle to eventual peacemaking, are at stake.
“We hope President Trump, who has reaffirmed his intention to transfer the embassy, will do so immediately.”