Fake news? Following an unsourced report in casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s news service 360, that President Trump has already decided not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office on Wednesday issued a response saying, “The Prime Minister’s Office did not receive any notice of any decision by the President regarding the embassy.”
The PM’s message continued: “Israel’s position is that all embassies should be located in Israel’s capital Jerusalem, first and foremost the US embassy.”
The 306 story as it appears in the Wednesday edition of Adelson’s NRG online affiliate, is short on verification. It reads: “US President Donald Trump has decided to use the veto power granted him by the American Jerusalem Act and not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital, 360 has found out. An update on the decision was delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and this constitutes a severe blow to him and to the state of Israel.
In short, the 360 story looks to be more about Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to influence President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu (both of whom have greatly enjoyed his generosity) on the Embassy relocation than it is about a concrete, verifiable reality.
The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995, provides funding for the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999, and includes a thread to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” as allocated in fiscal year 1999, until the United States Embassy in Jerusalem is officially opened.
The law was adopted by the Senate with a 93–5 majority, and the House with a 374–37 majority.
Since 1998, the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv has been suspended semi-annually by every sitting President—Clinton, Bush, and Obama—based on national security concerns, as provided for in section 7 of the Act. All three Presidents have determined that the relocation would be detrimental to US national security concerns and opted to issue waivers suspending any action favoring the relocation.
In response, members of Congress have begun to include language to do away with the President’s waiver provision, seeking to remove it completely from the Embassy Act.