The Biden administration plans to keep the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Jerusalem after it was relocated from Tel Aviv by the Trump administration, a White House spokesperson confirmed to CQ Roll Call in a statement Tuesday.
“The U.S. position is that our embassy will remain in Jerusalem, which we recognize as Israel’s capital,” the spokesperson told CQ Roll Call. “The ultimate status of Jerusalem is a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations.”
Former President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017 and initiated a multi-year process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel. The move was controversial as the status of Jerusalem is contested by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
The Senate voted 97-3 last week during a budget “vote-a-rama” to adopt an amendment proposed by Republican Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Republican Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty making the embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem permanent.
After passage of the @JimInhofe-Hagerty amendment (97-3) and my letter to @POTUS Biden, the @WhiteHouse finally (after almost four days) declared that Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel and the US Embassy will remain there.
— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) February 9, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the Senate vote during a press briefing Friday but did not offer a definitive answer on the administration’s position. Hagerty responded by sending a letter to President Joe Biden over the weekend asking the president to clarify his stance.
“Please do not hesitate any longer to confirm that you will continue to implement U.S. law and maintain the American Embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel,” he wrote.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously said during his Senate confirmation hearing Jan. 19 that the administration had no intention of moving the embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv. (RELATED: Here’s Where Biden’s Secretary Of State Pick Tony Blinken Stands On China, Iran, Russia, And More)
Blinken told CNN host Wolf Blitzer during an interview Monday that Biden supports Israel’s future “as a Jewish and democratic state” and is expected to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since assuming office “in the near future.”
The secretary later reiterated the need for negotiations when asked whether the Biden administration would support a two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian capital located in East Jerusalem.
“What we have to see happen is for the parties to get together directly and negotiate these so-called final status issues,” he told Blitzer during Monday’s interview.