What was the “Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995″?
The United States law called the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995, which passed both houses of Congress by lopsided majorities [Senate by a vote of 93 to 5, House of Representatives by a vote of 347 to 37], calls on the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the latter as the Israeli capital.
The Act determined that the United States' official policy towards Jerusalem was that:
- Israel has the right to determine its own capital
- The US should recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital
- Jerusalem should remain undivided
- The rights of every ethnic and religious group must be protected in Jerusalem
- The US Embassy should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999, the expected date of the completion of the Oslo peace process.
The Clinton administration refused to move the Embassy citing harm America's national security, believing that it would interfere with peace process negotiations. In fact, the Act gave the US President a "waiver authority" under which he could:
- ... suspend the [implementation] for a period of six months if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.
Both Presidents Clinton and Bush used this waiver to postpone any change, fearful of the reaction of Palestinian Arabs, even though Bush promised to move the embassy if elected in 2000. The US refusal to act on the embassy move, leaving Israel as the only country in the world where the US embassy is not in the designated capital city, has encouraged Palestinian Arabs to believe they may eventually succeed in driving Israel out of Jerusalem.