Congress Submits Bill to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

“For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her triumph go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch that burneth.” (Isaiah 62:1)

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Members from both sides of the aisle of US Congress submitted a bill this week calling for the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as well as recognition by the United States of Jerusalem as “the undivided, eternal capital of Israel” (Photo: Lawrence Jackson/whitehouse.gov/Wikimedia Commons)

Five congressmen from across the political spectrum have come together to introduce a bill this week which would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.  The congressmen cited “historical, biblical and moral reasons” for the move, which would include transferring the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Representatives Trent Franks (AZ-08), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Gene Green (TX-29), and Juan Vargas (CA-51) sponsored the bill, which is being circulated among members of congress.  It is known as the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act (H.R. 2846).  The timing of the bill is particularly relevant, coming as it does at a time when peace talks with Palestinians are being renewed after a three-year hiatus.  The bill shows Capitol Hill’s support for an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring the US to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem by 1999 at the latest.  The bill, however, allowed the president to delay implementation every six months, something successive presidents, from Clinton to Obama, have insisted on doing.  They have seen the bill as an infringement of the president’s right to set foreign policy and a potential security risk.  This is much the same reason the US recently refused to enforce its own law allowing US citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Israel” as their place of birth in their passports.

The congressmen sponsoring the new bill, however, are eager to see the original implemented as intended.  “I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. I voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which called for the American Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, and this new legislation will assure that the intent of the 1995 law is finally fulfilled,” said Congressman Gene Green.

“The United States was the first nation to recognize Israel’s sovereignty, a mere 11 minutes after the new state was formed in 1948. Today, 65 years later, Israel remains a uniquely precious ally. Just as the United States has assisted the Jewish people in restoring their ancient state, it is only fitting that we lead the way in recognizing Jerusalem for what it is: the undivided, eternal capital of Israel,” said Congressman Trent Franks.

“For historical, biblical and moral reasons, we are committed to the unity of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital with no waivers and no caveats,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn. “Our unflinching support is especially crucial at this critical hour of turbulence throughout the region.”

Perhaps adding incentive to push this bill through is the financial impact of the move.  Since Israel’s main government functions take place in Israel, moving the embassy could save the US a significant amount of money.  Couple that with the suggestions for the existing Tel Aviv building — either turn it into a consulate or sell it outright — and the move could prove a windfall for the cash-strapped US government.  The estimated value of the real estate is $100 million US.

“As an ardent supporter of our greatest ally in the region, I believe that transferring our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will reaffirm our commitment to the state of Israel,” said Congressman Juan Vargas. “As a continuation of over 3,000 years of Jewish history, Jerusalem must remain the undivided and eternal capital of Israel.”

Jerusalem was first established as the Jewish capital over 3,000 years ago, by King David (2 Samuel 5).  Its geographic centrality in Israel made it uniquely suitable as a seat of power, but it was the tradition of holiness emanating from the city that made it most attractive.  Tradition identifies the Temple Mount, in the heart of the city, as the location of the binding of Isaac and of Jacob’s dream.  David chose the Temple Mount as the site of the future Temple because he saw an angel hovering over the place, indicating its holiness.  The bible is replete with verses offering blessing and salvation to those who support the city: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper that love thee.” (Psalms 122:6)

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