Cruz: Cuba embassy a 'slap in the face' to Israel
© Greg Nash
 
The administration announced on Wednesday that it has told lawmakers that a deal has been reached to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba and reopen embassies. 
 
Cruz, who is running for president, called Obama's announcement "unacceptable and a slap in the face of a close ally that the United States will have an embassy in Havana before one in Jerusalem." 
 
The United States currently has an embassy in Tel Aviv, but Cruz has repeatedly called for the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. 
 
The Texas Republican, as well as Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOn The Money: Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl | Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term | Left-leaning group raises concerns about SALT cap repeal Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban MORE (R-Fla.), have backed legislation that would scrap a national security waiver that allows the administration to bypass a 1995 law to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem. 
 
Rubio said separately on Wednesday that he would oppose the confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba until the Obama administration tackles a handful of issues including U.S. fugitives living in Cuba and travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats. 

Cruz added in a statement that he will place a hold, effectively blocking, any nominee unless Obama "can demonstrate that he has made some progress in alleviating the misery" of the Cuban people.

Obama's move has split Republicans, with Sens. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (R-Ariz.) suggesting that Wednesday's announcement was a step in the right direction.

Democrats largely backed Obama's decision, with Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what's a moderate Democrat to do? Battle lines drawn on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, saying that "we are moving in a more hopeful direction."

But Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden rebuffs Democrats, keeps refugee admissions at 15,000 Bottom line The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (D-N.J.), a leading critic of Obama's Cuba policy, said that the decision sends a message that "democracy and human rights take a back seat to a legacy initiative.”