US Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, along with 33 other Republican senators, introduced a bill on Tuesday meant to block the Biden administration from opening a consulate serving Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021 is meant to ensure the full implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and stop what Hagerty views as the Biden administration’s attempted subversion of that law.
US President Joe Biden has said he will not reverse former president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
However, Biden promised in his election campaign that he would reopen the consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem, which was merged into the US Embassy to Israel in 2018, when Trump implemented the 1995 law and moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other US officials have said they will reopen the consulate, which was historically in a building on Agron Street in downtown Jerusalem.
The US would need Israel’s approval to open a consulate, and the current Israeli government opposes the move.
Hagerty said: “It is regrettable that the Biden administration insists on making moves that divide the United States and Israel when our two nations should be laser-focused on stopping Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime from going nuclear, on countering growing threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Iran-backed terrorist groups, and on strengthening and expanding the historic Abraham Accords that truly have increased peace in the Middle East.”
“The Trump administration kept its promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish State, and Congress must do everything in our power to strengthen our posture,” he added.
The new act quotes the 1995 law, which states, “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city,” and calls for it to be recognized as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the US Embassy.
It also quotes the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, which states: “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this act may be expended for the operation of a United States consulate or diplomatic facility in Jerusalem unless such consulate or diplomatic facility is under the supervision of the United States Ambassador to Israel.”
As such, the bill says: “It is the policy of the United States... to uphold, preserve and reaffirm United States recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the State of Israel and an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected; to maintain the United States Embassy to the State of Israel in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel; and not to reopen, open or otherwise maintain a United States Embassy, Consulate General, Legation, Consular Office or any other diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the United States Embassy to the State of Israel.”
It would also amend the Foreign Service Buildings Act to add a prohibition against using funds for a US diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than under the US Embassy to Israel.
The cosponsors of Hagerty’s bill are Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Mike Crapo (R-Indiana), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and Todd Young (R-Indiana).
Republicans and Democrats are tied in the Senate, but Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote, making the chance of the bill passing slim.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion on Tuesday said he does not think the consulate will be reopened.
“From my understanding, they do not have the necessary authorization,” Lion told Army Radio. “I hope very much that the diplomatic level, the government of Israel, will prevent the consulate’s establishment. I think that is what is happening now.”