US President Bush Blocks Embassy Move to Jerusalem
01:05 Jun 18, '04 / 29 Sivan 5764
US President Bush has, once again, suspended the relocation of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Israel's capital, Jerusalem.
Bush did this by asserting that US national security will be harmed if he implements the US law requiring the move. Bushâ€™s refusal to take concrete measures recognizing Jerusalem as Israelâ€™s capital has caused some to question the US Presidentâ€™s reputation as a â€˜friend of Israelâ€™.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act in 1995, mandating that the US Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 1999 and that the US recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
During the 2000 election campaign Bush pledged that if he was elected, he would "begin the process" of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on his "first day in office." After nearly four years, there is no evidence that he has begun that process.
In a memorandum to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, Bush wrote that he has determined it is necessity to suspend the transfer of the embassy for six months in order "to protect the national security interests" of the US. "My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," his memorandum said.
Former US President Bill Clinton, who promised in both of his presidential campaigns to move the embassy, shied away from implementation, signing successive six-month security waivers.
After the failed Camp David talks in July 2000 - Clinton suggested in an interview with Israeli television that he was considering moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
In reaction, Hezbullah terror chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened that if the US moved its embassy, the Arabs would "turn your embassy into rubble and return your diplomats in coffins."
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has sharply criticized the continued failure to implement the Embassy Relocation Act, demanding to know how the recognition of Israelâ€™s capital would harm US national security.
"The failure to recognize Jerusalem is a violation of US law and a blatant surrender to Arab terrorist threats,â€ ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said. â€œAt a time when America is engaged in a life-or-death struggle with terrorists worldwide, it is especially important to implement US law on Jerusalem and thereby send a message to terrorists everywhere that America will not capitulate to their blackmail. It is President Bush's refusal to move the embassy which could undermine national security because it encourages terrorists to believe that threats and violence will force the US to change its policies."
In 1980 Israel passed a basic law claiming Jerusalem as the Jewish Stateâ€™s "eternal, indivisible capital," but only two countries, Costa Rica and El Salvador, maintain their embassies in Jerusalem.