U.S. Next Strategy on Israel*
On Dec 4, President Obama signed a new Memorandum suspending funds for embassy use and maintenance under the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This memorandum, tied to the U.S. embassy in Israel moving from Tel Aviv, and for the recognition of Jerusalem as an Israeli capital, comes days after the United Nations vote to recognize Palestine as a observer nation.
Additionally, these actions by the President come less than a week after Palestinian President Abbas declared that Jerusalem was now and forever the capital of a Palestinian state.
Presidential Memorandum — Presidential Determination with respect to the Suspension of Limitations under the Jerusalem Embassy Act
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
SUBJECT: Suspension of Limitations under the Jerusalem Embassy Act
Pursuant to the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 7(a) of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-45)(the “Act”), 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.
You are authorized and directed to transmit this determination to the Congress, accompanied by a report in accordance with section 7(a) of the Act, and to publish the determination in the Federal Register. – Whitehouse.gov
Besides the funding and maintenance of an embassy in the city of Jerusalem, the 1995 Congressional Act also called for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem solely as the undivided capital of Israel. The suspension of this recognition could eventually increase diplomatic tensions between Palestine, Israel, and the United States, and place the city of Jerusalem in a precarious state for the Jewish nation.
Sections 3(b) in the Dec. 4 Memorandum refer to a suspension of funding tied to the Jerusalem embassy, and section 7(a) gives the President the authority to suspend said funding, and is being invoked under the belief of a potential threat to national security.
Sec. 3. Timetable.
(a) Statement of the Policy of the United States.—
(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and
(3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.
(b) Opening Determination.—
Not more than 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the Department of State for fiscal year 1999 for ‘‘Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad’’ may be obligated until the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that the United States Embassy In Jerusalem has officially opened. – Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995
As tensions increase between Palestine and Israel over who has authority over Jerusalem, the potential of a conflict affecting the national security of the United States, and our assets in the region increase accordingly. In response, President Obama has now chosen to invoke a suspension of allocated funding dedicated to the embassy in Jerusalem, which also carries the potential of suspending the recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.