New US consulate to open in Jerusalem, but where's the embassy?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

The US Consulate in Jerusalem has announced that its new facility in the capital’s southern Arnona neighborhood will open for service next week. The site where the new consulate building sits had previously been slated for the US embassy.

The new consulate is going to make life easier for all the US citizens who live on the western side of Jerusalem, as they previously had to use the cramped and inefficient facility on the capital’s eastern, Arab-dominated side.

But does the opening of the new consulate signal that Washington intends to never honor the Jerusalem Embassy Act and move its official mission to the Israeli capital?

In 1995, both houses of the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act to initiative and fund the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv back to Jerusalem. The act also reaffirms Jerusalem as the undivided and recognized capital of the State of Israel.

The act gave the US government until 1999 to move the embassy. However, a national security waiver included in the act has been invoked by successive presidents every six months since the motion was passed.

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all argued during their respective tenures that the Jerusalem Embassy Act infringed on executive branch control of foreign affairs, and indicated that the waiver would continue to be invoked until the act is no longer relevant.

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