Lawmakers to Trump: Stop Stalling on Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Top lawmakers tell Trump to fulfill campaign promise without delay

The Old City in Jerusalem / Getty Images
November 21, 2017

A group of leading House lawmakers have petitioned President Donald Trump to immediately move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem ahead of a deadline that could see the White House delaying the move for at least another six months, according to a letter sent to the president and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security, spearheaded the letter, which urges Trump to finally make good on a heavily scrutinized campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Jewish state's capital city.

While Trump has promised to move the embassy—which Congress legally mandated in 1995—as one of his first moves in office, the White House sent shockwaves through the pro-Israel community earlier this year when it renewed a longstanding waiver that ignores the congressional mandate and requires the embassy to remain located in Tel Aviv.

Every president since the law was initiated has signed the waiver, claiming that moving the embassy would interfere with U.S. diplomatic efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Many observers in Congress and elsewhere thought Trump would finally break that cycle.

Since deciding to renew the waiver preventing the embassy's move, DeSantis and other lawmakers have been pressuring the administration publicly and privately to make good on its promise.

The latest letter, sent to the White House on Tuesday, is a sign that Congress is becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump's decision to delay the embassy move.

White House officials told the Free Beacon earlier this month that there is no decision yet on whether it will begin moving the embassy, saying, there is "no news to share" on the matter.

DeSantis told the Free Beacon on Tuesday that the letter is meant to show the Trump administration there is widespread support both in Israel and America for the embassy move.

"After 22 years, it is time to allow the Jerusalem Embassy Act to take effect," DeSantis said. "I urge the president to decline to sign the impending waiver and announce the relocation of our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem."

The move would help rally U.S. support for Israel at a critical time, DeSantis said.

"Doing so during this calendar year—the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem—would be of incredible significant to millions of people in both Israel and the United States."

The congressional letter to Trump echoes these sentiments and urges Trump to follow through with his earlier promises on the matter.

"We applaud your administration for standing strong in defense of Israel, and we urge you to fulfill your promise of relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital of Jerusalem as we approach the second waiver deadline of your administration under the Jerusalem Embassy Act on December 1, 2017," the lawmakers write, referring to the upcoming deadline by which Trump must either renew the waiver or begin the process to relocate the embassy.

This is at least the second congressional letter on the issue since January and it follows a recent hearing on Capitol Hill in which top experts argued the Trump administration has no significant rationale for delaying the move.

"The upcoming deadline is the right time to enforce the Jerusalem Embassy Act," the lawmakers write. "We are encouraged by the promise you made after the first waiver deadline of your administration in June 2017—that it is a question of when, not if, you will choose to relocate the embassy—and we hope to see your promise fulfilled this December."

Other signers of the letter include: Reps. Brian Mast (R. Fla.), James Comer (R., Ky.), Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), Glenn Grothman (R., Wis.), Jody Hice (R., Ga.), Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), Dennis Ross (R., Fla.), and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.).

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, testifying earlier this month before lawmakers on the issue, maintained that arguments the move would negatively impact U.S. peace efforts in the region are unsubstantiated.

"Such a move, would not adversely effect negotiations over Jerusalem's final status or the broader Middle East peace process," Bolton told lawmakers. "Nor would it impair our diplomatic relations among predominately Arab or Muslims nations. In fact, by its honest recognition of reality, shifting the embassy would have an overall positive impact for U.S. diplomatic efforts."

Published under: Israel