President Obama again used a national security loophole to keep the U.S. Embassy from moving to Jerusalem as required by a nearly 20-year-old law.
“I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months the limitations set forth in sections 3(b) and 7(b) of the Act,” Obama wrote in a memorandum to Secretary of State John Kerry, mirroring what he’s written every six months.
Under the 1995 act, which was overwhelmingly approved in the House and Senate, the Embassy was supposed to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999.
George W. Bush suspended the requirements of the bill, too, but always included this sentence in his memos: “My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”
The Obama administration considers Jerusalem on the table for potential division in a final-status agreement.
Two months ago, the White House accused Israel of “poisoning” the peace process with construction in Jerusalem.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Oct. 1 that the U.S. is “deeply concerned by reports that Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in the sensitive area — or in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem.”
“This step is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they were to proceed with tenders or construction in that area,” Earnest continued. “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”
“It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
Since then, a U.S. citizen baby was killed in a terror attack at a Jerusalem light-rail station and three American rabbis were killed in a vicious synagogue attack.