House Republicans seek to block moving U.S. Embassy out of Jerusalem

Pen Pals

More than 30 House Republicans signed on to a letter requesting a specific provision to block any relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel

Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) speaks at a press conference in D.C.

A group of more than 30 House Republicans is requesting that the bill funding the State Department and other foreign affairs activities for 2021 expressly prohibit the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem.

“We respectfully request that language be included that prohibits any [Fiscal Year 2021] funding… being used to move the United States’ embassy out of Jerusalem,” the legislators, led by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

“In a time when we are seeing the increasing normalization of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we must ensure that the United States does not take a step backward by moving the U.S. embassy out of Jerusalem,” the letter continues.

There is not currently a significant push in Congress to relocate the embassy back to Tel Aviv, and President-elect Joe Biden has pledged not to do so. Israeli media reported last month that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had pressured Biden to change his stance on keeping the embassy in Jerusalem — and a number of President Donald Trump’s other Mideast policy moves — in exchange for the PA’s return to the negotiating table.

“Congress must ensure that America’s embassy to Israel remains in Jerusalem — the rightful capital of Israel,” Barr told JI. “This was a diplomatic victory two decades in the making when it was finally achieved in 2018. America must stand behind its most sacred ally in the region against radical assertions that Israel’s capital city is in dispute.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who also signed the letter, was more explicit about his concerns.

“Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem was one of this administrations’ many important foreign policy victories in the Middle East,” Banks said in a statement to JI. “Unfortunately, it’s one of many I’m worried Joe Biden will undo by returning to Obama-era policies of appeasement.”

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