So is the President going to be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognizing it as their official capital? The short answer appears to be yes. The slightly longer answer is closer to, “Yes, but not right this moment.”
The decision has prompted all manner of condemnation, primarily from Democrats in our own government. Chief among those is Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. She was quick to come out and announce that she’d sent a letter to the President, telling him that it would be a “terrible decision.” She went on to declare that it could potentially, “spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate.”
Reports indicate the president will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I wrote him last week to explain why that would be a terrible decision. pic.twitter.com/MV1o73nyDk
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) December 5, 2017
Fair enough. If that’s the principled stand you’ve taken you have every right to defend it. But as the Washington Free Beacon reminds us all this week, it’s something of a new principled position for Feinstein. The impetus for moving the embassy actually dates back quite a ways and she not only voted for the move but was a key negotiator in bringing along other Democrats to support it as well.
Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be in line with a law that Congress passed in 1995 requiring “the relocation of the United States embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” The measure, which also called for the U.S. to recognize the city as the undivided capital of Israel, passed the Senate by an overwhelming 93-5 margin.
Among the senators who voted for the initial Jerusalem Embassy Act was one Dianne Feinstein.
Feinstein actually played a key role in getting the bill passed by inserting a provision that would allow the president to issue a waiver to delay the embassy move six months at a time, if the president determined it was in the U.S. national security interest. Feinstein’s move led 10 additional Democratic members to support the bill, giving it a veto-proof majority.
Feinstein wasn’t some sort of lone wolf in this regard. Supporting Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel is actually embedded in the Democratic Party’s platform from 2016. And that principle has been there for the last four presidential election cycles.
The 2016 party platform read, “While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Israelis deserve security, recognition, and a normal life free from terror and incitement.”
In 2008, the platform read, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
To be fair, the addition of the phrase about Jerusalem being a matter for final status negotiation is more recent. Back in 2004 it simply said, “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
I realize that this embassy move is somewhat unique in global politics and there are a lot of moving parts to it. But it’s also obvious that the Democrats are trying to have their cake and eat it too on this subject. If you’ve been documenting the fact that Jerusalem is the rightful capital for decades, flatly stating that Trump is making a terrible decision here is blatantly cynical. If Feinstein and her fellow Democrats were being more consistent she’d have said something along the lines of, ‘while we support the eventual move of the embassy to Israel’s rightful capital, we should exercise caution in the timing and ensure we don’t endanger the peace process.’ Or at least something along those lines.
In an ideal world, this wouldn’t even be a question. Sovereign nations have the right to decide where to raise their flags. If we decided to move the U.S. capital from Washington to someplace warmer, can you imagine any of our allies coming and telling us they wouldn’t move their embassies and we shouldn’t be doing it? But the reality is that Israel is just different. The historic nature of Jerusalem and the confluence of world religions which attach unmatched significance to it make this a touchy situation. But rather than attacking the President for doing something which everyone had previously agreed we should do, working together to sort it out productively would have been a far better choice.