Feinstein Urges Trump Not to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Despite Voting to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Sen. Dianne Feinsten (D., Calif.) / Getty Images
Sen. Dianne Feinsten (D., Calif.) / Getty Images
December 5, 2017

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) on Tuesday castigated the idea of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying it would be a "terrible decision" despite previously voting for the embassy move to take place.

"Reports indicate the president will move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," the California senator tweeted. "I wrote him last week to explain why that would be a terrible decision."

In an attached letter to Trump dated Dec. 1, Feinstein wrote that moving the embassy would "spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate."

The California Democrat stressed that the U.S. must remain neutral in the debate over Jerusalem's status, and that moving the U.S. embassy there or recognizing the city as the capital of Israel would "undermine any remaining hope for a two-state solution."

Feinstein's tweet came on the same day that President Donald Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders that he plans to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the embassy there. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be in line with a law that Congress passed in 1995 requiring "the relocation of the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem." The measure, which also called for the U.S. to recognize the city as the undivided capital of Israel, passed the Senate by an overwhelming 93-5 margin.

Among the senators who voted for the initial Jerusalem Embassy Act was one Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein actually played a key role in getting the bill passed by inserting a provision that would allow the president to issue a waiver to delay the embassy move six months at a time, if the president determined it was in the U.S. national security interest.

Feinstein's move led 10 additional Democratic members to support the bill, giving it a veto-proof majority.

Every president since then has consistently used the waiver authority to hold off moving the embassy. After Trump signed one such waiver in June, the Senate voted 90-0 on a resolution marking the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification and calling for the embassy to move.

One of the senators who voted for the resolution, which reaffirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act and "call[ed] upon the president and all United States officials to abide by its provisions," was Dianne Feinstein.