The revival of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995

On December 6, 2017, President Donald Trump made history as the first US president to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel had declared Jerusalem as the nation’s capital on January 23, 1950. Israel’s First Knesset had proclaimed that “Jerusalem was, and had always been, the capital of Israel.” Most of the world’s nations did not accept Israel to choose their own capital, therefore the few embassies already located in Jerusalem moved to Tel Aviv. The US Consulate is located in Jerusalem, but the Embassy has always been in Tel Aviv.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act (JEA) as a public law of the United States was passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995, for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Since the passage of the law, it was never implemented because of opposition from presidents─including Clinton, Bush, and Obama─claiming national security interests. Each president has signed a waiver every six months postponing the implementation of the law. President Trump was the first president who let the waiver expire on Monday, December 4, 2017. It was a sign that the United States’ policy on Jerusalem will change, and that after 22 years, the law will finally be implemented.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act asserted that every country has a right to designate the capital of its choice and that Israel had designated Jerusalem, the spiritual center of Judaism. Furthermore, since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, religious freedom has been guaranteed to all, including Jews, Christians, Druze, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others.

As President Trump stated in his December 6 speech, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s President, Parliament and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions. Also, the Prime Minister’s Office and residence are in Jerusalem.

The revival of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995
The president added that he was ending an approach that for decades had failed to advance the prospects for peace. We may recall the “peace process” attempts, such as Geneva Conference (1973), Camp David Accords (1978), Madrid Conference (1991), Oslo Accords (1993), Camp David Summit (2000), Road Map for Peace (2002), Direct Talks (2010), Abbas Peace Plan (2014) and a number of other plans that for 44 years have not produced lasting peace.

Jerusalem Applauds President Trump:
Picture of a light show on the walls of Jerusalem on December 6

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked President Trump, saying, “This is a historic day. We are profoundly grateful to the president for his courageous and just decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to prepare for the opening of the US Embassy here… and commitment to truth, to advance peace.” (TV media and online references)