The Jerusalem Embassy Act commitment was deep-sixed on Friday night after Obama et al removed a critical sentence from the agreement. Friday night shenanigans are well-underway, but I must say, the word "shenanigan" has far too frivolous a tone for what is actually happening.
Our President has rendered a commitment to Israel "gone," as though it never existed. The history is that in 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act to insure that the U.S. Embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because Israel considers Jerusalem it's nation's capitol, and Israel has the right to designate their capitol. The U.S. Embassy was mandated to take up its Jerusalem presence by May 31, 1999, but today, our Embassy remains in Tel Aviv.
As bureaucrats are wont to do, for one reason or the other, every six months since May 31, 1999 a "Presidential Determination," in the form of a memo has been sent to the U.S. Secretary of State, titled "Suspension of Limitations Under the Jerusalem Embassy Act." The memo with the hefty title is simply a legal waiver moving the deadline for our Embassy's Jerusalem presence forward another six months. This has been going now, all these long years.
But now, everything has changed, just as so much has changed since January 20, 2009. The memo went out as usual, but with one big change. A sentence has been completely excised from the memo:
My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.So on a Friday evening when not many are paying attention, we find that Barack Obama has undone what Congress did in 1995 with the Senate adopting the Jerusalem Embassy Act by a vote of 95 to 5, and House doing the same with a vote of 374-37.
It appears that Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton believed that Congressional authority through their vote is, in reality, only an "advisory," because it "impermissibly interferes with the President's constitutional authority." If the U.S. Constitution places the conduct of foreign policy in the hands of the President, then any resolutions Congress makes are possibly invalid.
If the above is assumption is correct, the only power Congress has is to deny funding - in this case - for the establishment of a new Embassy in Jerusalem. To date, Congress has not denied funding for a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
The website Palestine Facts says that the Clinton White House:
...refused to move the embassy citing harm to America's national security, believing that it would interfere with peace process negotiations. In fact, the Act gave the U.S. President a "waiver authority" under which he could suspend the [implementation] for a period of six months if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.Although President G. W. Bush campaigned on the Embassy move, we know that never happened. He began waffling soon after taking office. I think Bush, however, added the sentence:
Both Presidents Clinton and Bush used this waiver to postpone any change, fearful of the reaction of Palestinian Arabs, even though Bush promised to move the embassy if elected in 2000. The US refusal to act on the embassy move, leaving Israel as the only country in the world where the US embassy is not in the designated capital city, has encouraged Palestinian Arabs to believe they may eventually succeed in driving Israel out of Jerusalem.
My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.The Jerusalem Embassy Act commitment has gone to feed the fishes. As of today, the "commitment" sentence is missing and the only option seems to be that we have Barack Obama's non-commitment to establishing a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - which he wants to cede to the Palestinians.