Moving US embassy to Jerusalem ‘not constructive’: State Department

January 5, 2017 4:30 pm

State Department spokesman John Kirby (file photo)

Moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds is “not constructive” and jeopardizes American diplomats, the State Department has warned, opposing attempts by the new Congress to force the relocation. 
“We continue to believe – it’s our policy and it’s been – and it was policy of previous administrations as well – that moving the embassy to Jerusalem is not a good idea,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday. 
“It’s not constructive to the overall peace process. It could actually put some of our people, some of our troops, those that work at the embassy, in harm’s way, and needlessly so,” he added.
The comments came a day after Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Dean Heller introduced the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act on Tuesday, the day one of the 115th Congress.
In his speech at Congress, Cruz called Jerusalem al-Quds “the eternal and undivided” capital of Israel and blasted the administration of President Barack Obama for holding a “vendetta” against Tel Aviv.
Rubio echoed the Texas senator’s remarks, asking Republican President-elect Donald Trump to arrange the relocation after taking office on January 20.
Trump repeatedly said during the campaign run that he would not hesitate in moving the embassy.
Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush promised the same thing during their presidential campaigns in order to court pro-Israel voters, but later reversed their proposals.
The New York businessman, however, showed his commitment to the pledge by nominating David Friedman, a Zionist hardliner, as US ambassador to Israel.
Obama on the other hand, has firmly opposed the move from the beginning, seemingly resisting pressure by Congress and Israel to do so.
The outgoing president renewed a presidential waiver earlier this month, ordering the US Embassy in Israel to remain in Tel Aviv.
Kirby said in his press briefing on Wednesday that moving the embassy to al-Quds could cause more tension in the region.
“It could exacerbate tensions not just there but elsewhere in the region too, because it could exacerbate the tensions that already exist between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.
Obama’s rocky ties with Tel Aviv further soured last month, when Washington refused to veto a UN rebuke of illegal Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands. 
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