Saturday, October 23rd | 17 Heshvan 5782

December 12, 2017 12:02 pm

US Must Include ‘Sovereignty’ in Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act

avatar by David Bedein


The US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Photo: Krokodyl via Wikimedia Commons.

President Trump did Israel a favor when he delayed the US embassy move to Jerusalem. ​

Why? Because current wording in the US Embassy Relocation Act would move the embassy to Jerusalem — but deprive Israel of sovereignty in Jerusalem.

That’s right: the bill does not officially recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel.

The wording of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act in 1995, as passed into law, reads as follows:

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(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 Israel.

​As a journalist, I cover​ed Congress’ passage of the act in October 1995. There was speculation at the time that the US would abandon its policy that all of Jerusalem must be a “corpus separatum” — an international zone apart from Israel.

But the final wording of the bill removed references to Jerusalem as part of Israel, and gave no assurance that Jerusalem would remain the exclusive capital of Israel.

Instead, the US Embassy Relocation Act reinforced two archaic rules of US policy that date from 1948: Not to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, and to define Jerusalem as an “international zone.”

The implications of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act are not lost on American citizens whose children were born in Jerusalem, and whose children’s US passports say “Jerusalem” — with no country listed as a place of birth.

Spokespeople for the US State Department have made it clear that under ​current law, even if the US embassy moves to Jerusalem, US birth and death certificates will still be stamped “​Jerusalem” — with no country listed.

​Why, then, the vocal Arab resentment and the overwhelming Jewish enthusiasm over the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act? Because it is doubtful whether either side has read the wording of the legislation.

The time is opportune to amend the US Embassy Relocation Act; the real challenge will be whether the US will do so. Such a policy change remains much more significant than the move of the US embassy.

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