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 RubioTrump risks clash with Congress over Chinese executive Kevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump 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 Heller How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit White House jumps into fight over energy subsidies One last fight for Sen. Orrin Hatch MORE (R-Nev.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCorker dodges on Trump primary question The Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force 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 CardinOvernight Defense: Senate moves toward vote on bill ending support for Saudi war | House GOP blocks Yemen war votes for rest of year | Trump throws uncertainty into Pentagon budget | Key Dem to leave transgender troop ban to courts George H.W. Bush remembered at Kennedy Center Honors Democratic senator: US must maintain strategic relationship with Saudis and hold them accountable 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) MenendezMore oversight of America’s international media networks a good idea Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Trump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it 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.”