Senators launch year with Jerusalem embassy bid

"It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill."

January 3, 2017 23:14
1 minute read.
Ted Cruz

Former Republican US presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Three Republican senators entered a new congressional session on Tuesday by introducing legislation that would pressure the State Department to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move the department has long opposed but that Congress and the incoming president, Donald Trump, supports.

The Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, according to cosponsors Marco Rubio of Florida, Dean Heller of Nevada and Ted Cruz of Texas, would compel Foggy Bottom to finally relocate the embassy, over two decades since Congress first called for the move.

Heller, who authored the bill, said it would withhold State Department funds until the embassy is relocated.

“It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill,” Heller said. “While administrations come and go, the lasting strength of our partnership with one of our strongest allies in the Middle East continues to endure. My legislation is a testament to that.”

Cruz offered particularly harsh language for US President Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel during his tenure, and said that he looks forward to working with Trump – his former GOP primary campaign rival – on this effort.

“The Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth – let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel – is shocking in some circles,” Cruz said. “But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”

Incoming Trump administration officials have said the president-elect is prioritizing the move. His choice for envoy to Israel, David Friedman, vowed in a statement to be working out of a Jerusalem embassy in due time.

Additional legislation is not required for Trump to order the move.

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