There is no greater friend, ally, and strategic partner to the United States than Israel. It is so important that we do everything in our power to ensure that this historically sacred relationship is not only preserved, but strengthened in the months, years and decades ahead. As part of this effort, the United States should move our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In 1948, Israel declared its independence and became a sovereign state. The nation immediately declared Jerusalem as its capital; yet, other nations, including the United States, rejected this notion and chose to place their embassies elsewhere. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and locating embassies elsewhere de-legitimizes and undercuts Israel.
The effort to relocate our embassy is not new, and Congress has long sought to see this critical mission through. In 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act to make this move happen. Though law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was never implemented. Despite this, President Clinton, as well as President Bush, agreed that this relocation was the right move.
Jerusalem is the unquestionable capital of Israel and should be fully recognized as such. In addition to its religious importance, Jerusalem is also the location of the Israeli Knesset and offices and residences of the Israeli prime minister and president. Moving our embassy to Israel’s capital is an important step to protect Israel’s sovereignty and security and strengthen the bond between our two nations. In light of the recent rise of anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israeli sentiments and actions, achieving this goal is more important now than ever before.
Moving our embassy is not only the right thing to do, it sets an important precedent for other nations to follow. It would advance Israel’s diplomatic status while also serving as a symbol of American strength and leadership. Israel is surrounded by terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and ISIS that would like nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map. Palestinian terrorists murder innocent Israelis and Americans, and then are celebrated as martyrs by the Palestinians and given state funerals, all while receiving financial rewards from the Palestinian Authority as payment for their terror. To make matters worse, Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, has consistently threatened Israel’s existence. There must be zero tolerance for any of these detractions, and as Americans, we must do everything possible to support Israel and her people. Now is the time to show that our nation will not indulge these actions which threaten or demean our friends.
While Jerusalem is already home to a U.S. consulate, Israelis are unable to utilize it, and must travel to Tel Aviv to make use of these services. Moving the embassy would dispel the diplomatic fiction that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel, while sending a clear message to the Palestinians that Israel will not be bullied into relinquishing its capital and will not be destroyed as the independent, democratic Jewish state. Israel is the only nation where the U.S. embassy is not in the host-identified capital. Israel is a sovereign state, and it absolutely deserves to be respected as such by all nations, especially its strongest friends and ally.
It is critical that the administration follows through on this pledge. As the center of the Israeli government, as well as the nation’s unquestionable capital, it is absolutely imperative that this move is initiated and completed in earnest. America stands by Israel, our greatest ally, in firm solidarity.
Congressman Lee Zeldin represents the 1st District of New York. In Congress, Rep. Zeldin serves as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Co-Chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus. He is one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.