Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Embassy Move: Correcting Historic Injustice

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Robert Satloff

Any assessment of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem needs to place appropriate value not just on repairing a historic injustice but on the powerful signal broadcast to the Middle East - and the wider world - that a new administration is determined to chart a new course in the region, one in which fulfilling commitments to allies is a top priority.

The move of the U.S. embassy is 69 years overdue. Given that American administrations of both parties have done official business with the government of Israel in Jerusalem for seven decades and that five presidents have held official meetings with Israeli prime ministers in Jerusalem going back to the early 1970s, it is right and proper that America's main diplomatic mission to Israel be situated in the city Israelis have considered their capital from the founding of the state. Moreover, the U.S. should call on all UN member states to join in establishing their embassies to Israel in Jerusalem.

U.S. officials should tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the relocation is happening and that he and the PA have an interest in preventing, not provoking, violence from which only radicals, especially Hamas, can benefit. Abbas should be told not to urge mass protest that has the potential to turn violent, and that the continued provision of economic aid will depend on how the Palestinian leadership comports itself in presenting the facts of the embassy relocation to the Palestinian people. 
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Trump: I Did Not Forget Jerusalem Pledge
- Alexander Fulbright

President-elect Donald Trump was asked by Israel Hayom if he intends to go through with his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "Of course I remember what I said about Jerusalem. You know that I am not a person who breaks promises," Trump responded in remarks published in Hebrew on. 

(Times of Israel)


Call to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Began as a Liberal Initiative with McGovern
- Robert Abrams

Moving the U.S. embassy to Israel's capital began as a liberal initiative in 1972. As early supporters of George McGovern, my friend Hilly Gross and I were asked at a meeting of key advisers to help hammer out elements for a McGovern Middle East program. That summer, Democrats adopted the following statement in the party's platform: "The next Democratic administration should recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the United States Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." It was the first time an American political party adopted such a proposal. Soon thereafter, Republicans adopted it as well.

In 1995, during Bill Clinton's presidency, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed to fund the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The legislation included the ability of the president to waive the requirement of moving the embassy. That, however, was envisioned as a safeguard in the event negotiations were at a particularly sensitive moment; it was never intended to be the default policy of the U.S., certainly not during a time when negotiations were not even taking place.

The embassy would be placed in West Jerusalem, a part of the city that under any peace plan will remain part of Israel. The real reason Palestinians object to an embassy move to any part of Jerusalem is that they still do not accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, which is what truly hinders prospects for peace. If moving the embassy to an undisputed section of Jerusalem is sufficient "provocation" to derail any chance for peace, we must concede that such a chance was an illusion to begin with.
The writer is former attorney general of New York.
(New York Daily News)

Jerusalem Already Has Plenty of Embassies - for the Palestinians
- Eylon Aslan-Levy

Lost in the controversy over moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is the fact that the U.S. is one of nine countries that already has a de facto embassy in Jerusalem - to the Palestinians. The U.S. consulate-general in Jerusalem, just around the corner from the Prime Minister's residence - handles diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority. While the consulates of the UK, Turkey, Belgium, Spain and Sweden are in eastern Jerusalem, the consulates of the U.S., France, Italy, and Greece are in western Jerusalem.

None of these countries recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and say they cannot host embassies there lest it give the impression that they recognize Israel's sovereignty in the city. At the same time, the Palestinians enjoy the privilege of diplomatic missions in the very same city.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be recognition that since the Palestinians already enjoy diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, the denial of the same to the country that controls that city is an act of inconsistency. Moving the U.S. embassy would right a historic wrong.
(The Tower)

The U.S. Should Move Its East Jerusalem "Embassy" to Ramallah
- David Bernstein (Washington Post)

    • American policy with regard to Jerusalem is incoherent. On the one hand, U.S. policy has long favored a negotiated settlement between Israel and its adversaries based in some way on the 1967 armistice lines, which places west Jerusalem firmly in Israeli hands.
    • On the other hand, the U.S. government refuses to officially recognize that any part of Jerusalem is part of Israel. As a result, American citizens born in west Jerusalem must register their country of birth as "Jerusalem," not Israel. Moreover, the U.S. government keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv rather than in west Jerusalem, the seat of Israeli government.
    • Nevertheless, the U.S. government maintains a consulate in east Jerusalem that serves the Arab residents of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The consulate's own website notes that "the Consulate General has served as the de facto representative of the United States government to the Palestinian Authority."
    • This raises an obvious question: If the U.S. government refuses to place its Israel embassy in west Jerusalem, what possible rationale could there be for its de facto Palestinian embassy to be in east Jerusalem?
    • Informing the Palestinian Authority that the U.S. consulate is moving to Ramallah might even make the P.A. rethink whether it really wants to oppose having the U.S. Embassy relocate to west Jerusalem.

    The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.

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