Congress Urges Trump to Move U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Lawmakers slam U.N., Obama administration for anti-Israel action

Jewish men participate in a blessing during the holiday of Sukkot, in front of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's Old City / AP
January 11, 2017

A delegation of more than 100 members of Congress wrote to President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, urging him to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem "as soon as you take office," according to correspondence obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The lawmakers wrote to back Trump's campaign pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a policy shift the Obama administration has opposed.

The letter comes days before Trump is to take office. It follows a series of United Nations resolutions supported by the Obama administration condemning Israel for building homes in Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), urges Trump to send a message to the world that the United States views Jerusalem as "the eternal capital of the Jewish people," according to the missive.

The move would be a decisive break with the current White House, which has long maintained that Jerusalem is not part of Israel.

"We write to express support for this policy and to urge you to take swift action to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem as soon as you take office," the lawmakers write.

"Israel is one of the United States' closest allies and stands alone in the Middle East for its commitment to democratic ideals. Moving the embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital," they write.

A move of this magnitude could help repair U.S.-Israel relations, which have been strained under the Obama administration.

"This action is all the more urgent in light of the anti-Israel Resolution 2234, adopted by the United Nations Security Council on December 23, 2016," the lawmakers write. "The resolution invites renewed diplomatic hostility and economic warfare against Israel, and we must act urgently to mitigate its consequences and to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to Israel."

"We hope that you will stand with Israel on this important issue, and we look forward to working with you in the years ahead on similar matters," the lawmakers write.

DeSantis told the Free Beacon in a statement that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would send a clear message that America stands with the Jewish people and does not view their claims to Jerusalem as illegitimate.

"Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the U.S. should maintain its embassy in Israel's capital city," DeSantis said. "For decades, the State Department has indulged the conceit that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel, even though the Jewish presence in Jerusalem goes back thousands of years. I encourage President Trump to send a message to the world that the United States stands with our friends in Israel by relocating our embassy to Jerusalem."

The matter of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has long been a diplomatic point on contention.

While Congress expressed its desire to see the embassy relocated in 1995, multiple White House administrations have declined to heed this call, claiming that Jerusalem is up for grabs as part of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Lawmakers recently introduced new legislation to pressure the White House into finally moving the embassy. The bill would withhold some State Department funds until the embassy is relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.