McCain: If elected, I'd move US embassy to Jerusalem

Republican presidential contender vows to do what both Bush, Clinton failed to do if he wins election.

mccain smiles 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
mccain smiles 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
John McCain would move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem if he were elected president, the presumptive Republican nominee for president told CNN Friday. In what many considered an indirect attempt to expose Sen. Barack Obama's apparent fluctuation on the issue, McCain suggested the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv as an affirmation of his own commitment to an "undivided Jerusalem." "Right away," McCain said in the interview. "I've been committed to that proposition for years." Nevertheless, McCain has emphasized that the city's final status is subject to negotiation despite his own position on the matter. It remains to be determined whether his promise to act in accordance with the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would come to fruition were he elected. Obama has said that he would only consider moving the embassy once the Israelis and Palestinians come close to a final-status peace agreement. President George W. Bush also committed to moving the embassy during his 2000 campaign, but failed to do so. Former president Bill Clinton repeatedly postponed the relocation during his time in office, as well. Both used the excuse that such a move would preempt Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and endanger US security interests in the Middle East. The recurring reneging of US presidents on relocating the US embassy is a manifestation of an escape clause in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Adopted in October of that year by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the act states that the United States's official policy towards Jerusalem should recognize it as the capital of Israel. It also stipulates that 50 percent of funds allocated to acquiring and maintaining official US buildings abroad may not be spent if the embassy has not been reopened in Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. However, the president reserves the right to waive the spending restriction for six months, should he or she determine that the relocation would pose a threat to national security. Consequently, the relocation of the embassy has been suspended by American presidents semi-annually since 1995. The United States and Israel have determined a potential site for the embassy in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talpiot should the US decide to move the embassy.