NEW YORK – While Congress passed a law 20 years ago recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and stipulating the U.S. Embassy should move there, the embassy still remains in Tel Aviv.
Now, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is calling for the next president to make the move, which he sees as a symbolic gesture that would strongly communicate America’s support of Israel.
Of the 190 U.S. embassies around the world, the embassy in Israel is the only one not in the capital of its host country.
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama signed waivers suspending the embassy law, citing diplomatic and security concerns. Arab countries have maintained that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would undermine Washington’s position as a neutral negotiator on the final status of Jerusalem.
In a foreign policy address Thursday in New York City, Cruz declared that in January 2017, “the next president should announce that America is moving its embassy to Jerusalem.”
“For decades political candidates, Republicans and Democrats, have talked about doing so,” he said.
“Enough talk!” he insisted. “We need a leader who will act and respect the eternal capital of Israel.”
Cruz was speaking at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in midtown Manhattan, where he accepted the “Defender of Israel” award from Rabbi Shmuely Boteach’s World Values Network.
Among the 1,000 attendees present for the Champion of Jewish Values International Awards Gala were philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Sen. Bob Menendez, R-N.J., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and actor Sir Ben Kingsley.
See Cruz’s speech at the World Values Gala:
Arguing that Israel is a crucial strategic ally to the U.S. in the Middle East, Cruz encouraged Washington to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel.”
He argued the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would send a clear signal that the next White House considers “Israel indispensible to Middle East stability and world security.”
“We are living in dangerous times. The nation of Israel has never been in more jeopardy,” Cruz said.
“In 2017, we need a president who will stand and say the United States will no longer fund the Palestinian Authority as long as it engages in incitement and as long as it is in a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization. When you are advocating the murder of Jews, you will not receive American taxpayer money.”
In his 1992 run for president, Bill Clinton promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. But he failed to do so as president, even after Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, authorizing the move but leaving the final decision to the president.
The issue resurfaced in 2000 when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told an Israeli television audience that he understood Clinton would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on his last day in office.
Then, in 2001, President George W. Bush once again postponed the move in a decision that was tabled for the duration of his two terms in office.
Insiders to the Cruz campaign told WND that the senator proposes moving the U.S. Embassy to the Talpiot neighborhood on the western side of Jerusalem, an area within pre-1967 Israel borders.
The idea is that under any final agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – even if the Palestinian demands are met for handing over all territory captured by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem – a U.S. Embassy relocated in Talpiot would not be in Palestinian territory.
‘Standing unapologetically’ with Israel
In his wide-ranging speech, Cruz stressed his record of supporting Israel in the U.S. Senate.
“In my time in the Senate, I have endeavored to stand by and fight for the nation of Israel over and over again,” he said. “When Israel was facing rocket attacks from Hamas and the Obama administration banned U.S. commercial flights to Israel, I stood up and asked if the Obama administration had just launched an economic boycott on the nation of Israel.”
He noted the FAA didn’t ban flights into Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Ukraine after a passenger airliner was shot down by a Russian missile.
“So, why exactly was every civilian flight out of America arriving into Ben Gurion Airport shut down, and why was the announcement timed to coincide with Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in the Middle East with $47 million for Gaza that would inevitably end up in the hands of Hamas?”
Cruz drew applause by noting his appreciation for then-mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg getting on an airplane from London to Israel while the FAA travel ban was in force “to demonstrate how safe it was.”
“And the light and heat and attention became too much, so that within 36 hours the Obama administration lifted the ban on commercial air flights from the United States to Israel,” he said.
Cruz blasted the Obama administration for appearing to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran that would allow it “to keep its centrifuges, keep enriched uranium, keep funding its ICBM program, and keep being the leading state-sponsor of terrorism.”
“I commit to you to do everything in my power to speak out and stop any deal that would allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” Cruz said, drawing audience applause.
“In 19 months there will be a new president of the United States,” Cruz noted in conclusion. “Instead of a president who boycotts Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, imagine the United States standing unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”