Senate GOP seek US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital

"This legislation honors promises our nation made to Israel more than fifteen years ago to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Heller said. "By simply enforcing laws that have been on the books for years, the United States sends a clear message to the international community that we will continue to support Israel's right to exist as a sovereign and peaceful democracy."

Specifically, Heller's Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act would eliminate language in the 1995 law that allows the State Department to dodge the requirement to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The 1995 includes presidential waiver language on this requirement — without that waiver language, the State Department's fund for acquiring and maintaining buildings overseas would be cut until the embassy is relocated.

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Heller's bill simply removes that waiver authority, and seeks to pressure State to begin the process of relocating the embassy in the next two fiscal years.

The bill is especially controversial after the events of last week, when the Palestinian Authority applied to the United Nations for statehood. The U.S. and others had insisted that the PA must first negotiate directly with Israel.

The PA sees East Jerusalem as its future capital, but Israel has controlled East Jerusalem since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel views Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

Heller's bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).