House GOP seek to block Biden from reopening Palestinian mission in Jerusalem

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
Greg Nash

House Republicans have introduced legislation aimed at blocking President Biden from reopening a U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem since it was shuttered by former President Trump in 2019. 

The legislation has the support of more than 100 GOP lawmakers, underscoring the partisan divide over how Congress should approach the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The legislation is being led by Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and has support from top Republicans including Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul (Texas) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), a vocal Trump supporter and Republican primary candidate for New York governor.

The proposed bill, called the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, prohibits the use of funds for any diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the U.S. Embassy.

The original 1995 law put Congress on record recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling for an embassy to be established, but allowed a presidential waiver to defer moving the embassy in the interest of national security. 

Trump bypassed the waiver in 2018, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and closing the diplomatic mission to the Palestinians. The move was viewed as largely dismissing Palestinian aspirations to establish a capital of a future independent state in Jerusalem. 

Biden has said he intends to reopen the U.S. consulate to the Palestinians in the Jerusalem, a move that has garnered opposition from across Israel’s political spectrum, including from its conservative prime minister and centrist foreign minister. 

House Republicans, in their proposed legislation, say American relations with Palestinians should operate out of the U.S. Embassy as it has done since the consulate was shuttered. 

“President Trump followed through on his promise to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move America’s embassy there. Now, President Biden is seeking to reopen a consulate general and provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians,” Scalise said in a statement. “This violates the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.”

Tags David Kustoff Donald Trump Elise Stefanik Israel Jerusalem Joe Biden Lee Zeldin Michael McCaul Steve Scalise US consulate to the Palestinians

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