Over 100 Congressional Republicans sign call for Trump to move embassy to Jerusalem
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Over 100 Congressional Republicans sign call for Trump to move embassy to Jerusalem

In letter circulating among lawmakers, incoming president urged to take 'swift action' to relocate to Israel's 'eternal capital'

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Donald Trump and attorney David Friedman exit the Federal Building, following an appearance in US Bankruptcy Court on February 25, 2010, in Camden, New Jersey. (Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images/JTA)
Donald Trump and attorney David Friedman exit the Federal Building, following an appearance in US Bankruptcy Court on February 25, 2010, in Camden, New Jersey. (Bradley C. Bower/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images/JTA)

WASHINGTON — A large delegation of House Republicans is preparing to pressure US President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on a campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a letter to be sent to the incoming president, which is currently being circulated to garner more signatures from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Trump is encouraged to “take swift action to relocate our embassy to Jerusalem as soon as you take office,” according to a copy of the text.

The letter, which was initiated by Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis (R), has thus far amassed more than 100 signatories in the House GOP caucus to endorse the missive and implore Trump to formally recognize the holy city as Israel’s sovereign capital.

“Moving the embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital,” the text said.

Without mentioning President Barack Obama by name, the letter also castigates his administration’s decision to allow passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution last month that condemned Israeli settlements as illegal.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on allegations of misconduct against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on allegations of misconduct against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The UN resolution also calls on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,” language that Israel fears will lead to a surge in boycott and sanctions efforts, and that an Israeli official warned would provide “a tailwind for terror.”

Officially moving the embassy, the lawmakers said in the letter, is “all the more urgent in light of the anti-Israel Resolution 2334,” referring to the motion’s formal name.

The resolution,” it said, “invites renewed diplomatic hostility and economic warfare against Israel, and we must act urgently to mitigate its consequences and to reaffirm our steadfast commitment to Israel.”

The letter was first reported by Foreign Policy.

The Palestinians and Jordan have slammed the proposed move to Jerusalem, with the Hashemite Kingdom saying it would be a “red line.”

Trump has already indicated his presidency will mark a strong break with his predecessors on Israel, telling the Israeli people that “things will be different” once he takes office.

While past presidents such as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have vowed on the campaign trail to move the embassy, none has fulfilled that promise once they assumed the responsibilities of conducting America’s foreign policy.

Each president since then, including Obama, has maintained that the future status of Jerusalem should be settled in final negotiations between the parties, as both Israelis and Palestinians claim it as their rightful capital.

A Palestinian man looks out at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 29, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
A Palestinian man looks out at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on December 29, 2016. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

In 1995, Congress adopted a resolution, led by former House speaker and current Trump confidant Newt Gingrich, that called on the president to move the embassy. But each presidency since then has repeatedly used the prerogative granted to them to delay implementation of that demand.

But with an incoming president who has indicated he will break with these practices, those pushing for the relocation believe the White House may no longer be an obstacle.

Earlier this month,Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) proposed the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which urges Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.

The move came after the incoming president issued a major signal that he is willing forego the tradition of previous administrations: In December, he nominated his longtime friend and attorney David Friedman to be the next US ambassador to Israel.

In a statement announcing the selection, Friedman, a vocal supporter and donor to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, said he expected to carry out his duties in “Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

There have also been reports that Trump’s advisers are already in the process of planning the relocation. Campaign manager and soon-to-be White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has said it is “a very big priority for him.”

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