Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem will strengthen the far right, and may also further isolate Israel
In a letter to president-elect Donald Trump, Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has laid out a warning in regards to moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa—as reported by Al Jazeera—Abbas argued that moving the embassy would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”. Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 News is now reporting a possible compromise that Trump’s administration is considering—not moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but having David Friedman, his pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, live and work out of an existing Jerusalem consulate. This, as of publication, has not been confirmed or denied by Donald Trump or his spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. Moving the US embassy 67 kilometres to Jerusalem may seem like an extraneous, and deeply performative gesture, but for many supporters of Israel—both inside and outside the state—it would solidify the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, and reaffirm a commitment to the state that many right wing ideologues have accused the Obama administration of lacking.
On January 3, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act to the 1st session of the 115th Congress, with the goal of passing into law a measure to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while also demanding that the president immediately begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, which calls for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem “…no later than May 31, 1999”, was adopted in 1995. This public law has been delayed on 22 occasions due to a provision in the act under section 7, known as the “Presidential Waiver”, which allows for suspension of the act should it be “necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.” The new legislation requests that the section 7 Presidential waiver be struck, and provides no no similar section authorising the President to suspend the implementation of the act.