Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act:
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.
(2) Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
(3) The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.
(4) The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.
(5) From 1948–1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.
(6) In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six Day War.
(7) Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.
(8) This year marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.
(a) STATEMENT OF THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES
(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and
(3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.
The act was passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate.
The Act was passed in 1995…
The Jerusalem Act contained one special caveat:
(a) WAIVER AUTHORITY
(1) Beginning on October 1, 1998, the President may suspend the limitation set forth in section 3(b) for a period of six months if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.
(2) The President may suspend such limitation for an additional six month period at the end of any period during which the suspension is in effect under this subsection if the President determines and reports to Congress in advance of the additional suspension that the additional suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.
Every six months since the passage of Jerusalem Embassy Act, U.S. presidents have revisited moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Citing “delicate” Middle East peace talks, Clinton, Bush and Obama all failed to uphold the Act and instead deferred action by repeatedly claiming the presidential waiver on national security interests.
In doing so, these Presidents refused to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
On Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 12:00 a.m., the last waiver, signed by President Trump in June, expired.
Today, President Trump did something three other Presidents failed to do.
President Trump upheld the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. State Department has been ordered to begin preparations immediately.
This is a historic moment.
For twenty years, every six months, past presidents have signed these waivers in the stated belief that delaying recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would advance the cause of peace.
And after 20 years we are little closer to peace than when the Jerusalem Act was signed.
As President Trump rightly noted in his speech:
We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. Old challenges demand new approaches.
My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
President Trump continues with several themes he has consistently maintained.
He observes practicalities of the situation:
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.
He notes simple facts:
Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.
Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world.
He states an obvious problem:
However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.
The start of a new beginning:
But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.
He discusses a commitment to mutual peace:
This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians.
He acknowledges self-determination:
We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
He offers assistance:
The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.
Acknowledges difficult areas:
Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks.
The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides.
Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach.
While calling for an end to extremism:
It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations, and people, to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate – not violence.
And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.
Note again, the various sectional themes of President Trump’s speech. These are important and represent consistencies he has maintained since first deciding to run for office.
- Continuing on the same failed path is a fools errand.
- Acknowledgement of hard, yet obvious, facts is a precursor to moving forward.
- Ignoring practical realities allow problems to fester and grow.
- Nations must be free to decide their own best outcomes.
- The United States will facilitate – but will no longer decide – outcomes for other nations.
- Nations should negotiate and make decisions based on self-interest and self-determination.
- Extremism should be called out and confronted to enable the growth of peace.
These are same themes President Trump expounded on during his powerful Middle East trip.
In that trip, President Trump did not impose America. He offered America. President Trump offered a solution and a partnership based on practical realities.
The same was true today.
Eli Lake of Bloomberg, summed things up nicely in, Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Helps the Peace Process:
That’s the real danger of sticking to the policy of Jerusalem neutrality.
It feeds a Palestinian illusion: With enough patience and rage, one day the Jews will be evicted from their eternal capital. That’s not going to happen.
And as more and more Arab states come to rely on Israel in the regional war against Iran and its proxies, this fact is becoming more visible to the rest of the region.
Obama aides used to say they were giving Israel tough love. They said a real friend won’t allow Israel to keep expanding settlements when eventually there needs to be a two-state solution.
Trump is doing something like this for the Palestinians. A real friend won’t allow Palestinian leaders to keep promising to liberate a city that is the capital of its peace partner.
That straight talk should not be the end of peace talks, but the beginning.
Stated even more succinctly here:
Give Trump a ton of credit: He recognizes that basing negotiations on fantasy that Palestinians will walk away with Jerusalem is actually detrimental to peace.
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) December 6, 2017
I could not agree more – and stated so in an earlier article, Obama’s Betrayal of Israel:
The U.N. Security Council’s Resolution presents us with another problem as well. By making the claim that the West Bank is Palestinian land, the incentive for Palestinians to negotiate for lasting peace has been removed. As a matter of negotiation, this accord tells the Palestinians and their handlers that terrorism has proven to be an effective form of negotiation.
For those who are crying out that today’s Presidential announcement will fuel violence and hurt the peace process I have two comments:
1) What peace process?
Israel has been portrayed as the aggressor and oppressor. This view contrasts starkly with actual reality. If the Palestinians and Hamas laid down their arms and announced they wanted peace there would be peace.
If Israel was to lay down all its arms and announce it wanted peace, Israel would cease to exist as a state due to Islamist aggression.
Palestinians have refused to accept a Jewish state – in any form. Thus, we had the Palestinian rejections of the 2000 and 2008 peace settlements – settlements that would have given Palestinians control over Gaza and most of the West Bank – but carried the guarantee of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has refused to meet face to face with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – despite a standing invitation.
2) Are you watching Middle East events?
Israel has little to do with current instability in the Middle East.
Iran is the nation fomenting discord and violence in the region.
When Abbas, traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he was met head-on with the hard realities of Saudi Arabia’s willingness and need to resist Iran’s ambitions. From the New York Times:
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented a plan that would be more tilted toward the Israelis than any ever embraced by the American government, one that presumably no Palestinian leader could ever accept.
The Palestinians would get a state of their own but only noncontiguous parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory. The vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which most of the world considers illegal, would remain. The Palestinians would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
[Reportedly] Prince Mohammed had told Mr. Abbas that if he would not accept the terms, he would be pressed to resign to make way for a replacement who would.
Why would the Saudis take such a hard stance? This:
The Saudi prince has made clear that his top priority in the region is not the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the fulcrum of Arab politics for generations, but confronting Iran.
Regional officials and analysts say they believe he might be willing to try to force a settlement on Palestinians in order to cement Israeli cooperation against Iran.
Western and regional officials said Saudi Arabia’s main goal seems to be normalization of relations with Israel, which would be difficult if the Palestinian struggle remains a regional cause. Saudi Arabia currently has no official relations with Israel but they have been widely reported to have secretly cooperated for years on security issues.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, like President Trump, is acknowledging a simple truth. An alliance with Israel against the aggression of Iran is of greater importance for ultimate regional peace.
The Middle East is undergoing an enormous fundamental shift, dividing itself between regimes who support extremism and those who oppose it.
Our formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a acknowledgement of that shift.
It just might be catching on:
Israeli media is reporting that several countries have advised Israel’s foreign ministry that they, too, intend to move their embassies to Jerusalem in light of today’s announcement by President Trump.
— Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) December 6, 2017
You may find the full transcript of President Trump’s announcement here.
President Trump’s formal announcement:
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