Tags: Will | Bush | Move | Israeli | Embassy | Jerusalem?

Will Bush Move Israeli Embassy To Jerusalem?

Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM

An informed source in Jerusalem predicted Tuesday that Bush would delay the move at this juncture, as a "gesture" to support U.S. efforts to broker a ceasefire and urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement the recommendations of an international fact-finding commission.

But the State Department offered little insight and said it would not preview what the president's decision might be.

"The issue is before him and he will make his decision by May 31," a department official said by telephone on Tuesday.

Samson Krupnick, chairman of a lobby called Jerusalem 3000, said he did not believe that the U.S. would want to give the PA "an excuse" at this time not to honor a ceasefire agreement.

U.S. special envoy William Burns opened the Bush administration's first round of shuttle diplomacy at the weekend, urging Israel and the PA to implement recommendations of the U.S.-led Mitchell commission.

The commission called first for a total and unconditional cessation of violence.

Krupnik said he would not see a delay as Bush having reneged on his promise to move the embassy. He believed the move would only be held over temporarily, and not until the end of Bush's term in office.

Jerusalem 3000 lobbies for countries with diplomatic ties to Israel to move their missions to Jerusalem.

The 3000 is a reference to the 3,000th anniversary of King David's declaration of the city as the capital of the kingdom of Israel, commemorated in 1995-96.

According to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was to have been moved to Jerusalem by May 1999, a step that would acknowledge Israel's right to the city.

In two successive election campaigns, former President Clinton pledged to move the embassy, but despite years of peace talks and promises, the embassy was not relocated.

Clinton postponed the move by signing successive six-month security waivers. The last waiver expires at the end of May.

Bush pledged as part of his election campaign to begin taking steps toward moving the embassy, but shortly after taking office Secretary of State Colin Powell explained that the U.S. had started a "process" that could take a long time.

"Sometimes [the word process] means stall, sometimes it means move right ahead ... In this case, it means that we're examining the process, and in due course we will make a judgment," Powell said back in February.

Last summer, when Clinton hinted in a television interview that he might move the embassy before his term in office ended, the militant Islamic group Hizballah vowed to destroy the mission and kill the diplomats if the step was taken.

Conflicting claims to Jerusalem is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The city was divided into Jordanian- and Israeli-controlled sections during the 1948 war of independence, and then reunited under Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel calls the city its eternal, indivisible capital, while the PA wants at least the eastern section of the city to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Most countries of the world have never recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and a number withdrew their embassies to Tel Aviv as a result of a law Israel passed in 1980 formalizing its position on the city.

Only three Latin American countries now have their embassies here - Costa Rica, Bolivia and El Salvador.

Of the 170 countries in the world with which the U.S. has diplomatic ties, Israel is the only one in which the American Embassy is not located in the host country's capital.

(C)

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An informed source in Jerusalem predicted Tuesday that Bush would delay the move at this juncture, as a gesture to support U.S. efforts to broker a ceasefire and urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement the recommendations of an international fact-finding...
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Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM
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