President Donald Trump will begin the formal process of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem Wednesday and recognize the city as Israel’s capital, actually fulfilling a campaign pledge many of his predecessors made.
The process of moving the embassy could take years and puts the U.S. in compliance with Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Each president since the act’s passage has signed a waiver every six months while in office, keeping the embassy in the city of Tel-Aviv for national security concerns.
Former President Bill Clinton made Jerusalem a campaign issue in 1992, attacking then-former President George H.W. Bush for having allegedly “repeatedly challenged Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem” and vowing to move the embassy during his administration.
Clinton, however, believed moving the embassy and recognizing the capital may derail his many attempts at brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
The cycle appeared to repeat itself once again during the 2000 U.S. presidential election when former President George W. Bush castigated Clinton for failing to follow through on his embassy promise and vowing to get the process started in his few months in office. Bush never made a concerted effort towards moving the embassy and became embroiled his own Middle East conflicts.
Former President Barack Obama himself never attacked Bush or Clinton for not moving the embassy to Jerusalem but declared in a 2008 campaign speech, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
The Obama administration similarly never pursued a serious effort at moving or declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel formally, even taking a case all the way to the supreme court to block American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth.
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