J Street Welcomes President’s Signing of Waiver to Maintain US Embassy in Tel Aviv

June 1, 2017

J Street welcomes President Trump’s decision today to sign a presidential waiver to allow the US Embassy in Israel to remain in Tel Aviv.

This decision is in keeping with 20 years of bipartisan policy since the passage of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which permits the president to continually waive, for a period of six months at a time, the act’s requirement that the US Embassy in Israel be moved to Jerusalem. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each issued such waivers every six months throughout their tenures.

J Street believes that Jerusalem is absolutely central to the history, culture and identity of the Jewish people. We look forward to it, one day, being recognized by the entire world as Israel’s capital, as part of a negotiated two-state solution. We agree with the policy of all Democratic and Republican presidents since 1967 who, while recognizing the deep and unbreakable Jewish connection to Jerusalem, have maintained the official position that the status of Jerusalem is to be decided by negotiations between the parties. American governments have avoided and objected to actions that could be interpreted as prejudging the outcome of those negotiations. The US therefore — like every other country with which Israel has bilateral relations — has its embassy in Tel Aviv, rather than in Jerusalem.

Since the disposition of Jerusalem is a final status issue that must be decided by the parties themselves, moving the embassy could cause significant harm to US credibility as a mediator in efforts to move toward a two-state peace agreement. Jordan and Egypt, countries that have made peace with Israel and who are eager to contribute to a reinvigorated Israeli-Palestinian peace process, have made clear their strong opposition to such a move.

Moving the embassy could also have a more immediate security impact. Even seemingly minor changes to Jerusalem’s status quo in fact or law have historically carried the risk of sparking potential violence.

We are glad that the administration has heeded the advice of veteran officials in the diplomatic and security communities, and decided to maintain the prudent policy of its predecessors on this issue.

Jerusalem

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