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GOP Rep Scouts Locations in Jerusalem for New U.S. Embassy

posted on: Mar 7, 2017

BY: Diego Reyes/Contributing Writer

Tensions in the Middle East continue to rise as Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) confirmed that it is highly likely that President Trump will move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Florida congressman told reporters on Sunday that he has been touring sites in Jerusalem for a new embassy location.

“[Trump’s] in a position where he’s either going to follow his campaign promise or he’s actually going to have to sign this waiver, and I just think knowing the president, he has been a man of his word,” DeSantis told CNN.

At the end of 2016, President Obama signed a six-month Presidential waiver on a 1995 congressional order to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since 1995, every president has used the waiver to restrict the embassy move, but come May, President Trump could break this norm and extension and commit to the campaign promise of moving the embassy.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has broken a few norms in his policy approach to Israel-Palestine. He has declared that he supports a one or two state solution, and promised to be the most pro-Israel president to ever serve in office.

Politicos, Arab Americans, and Palestinian officials have repeatedly warned President Trump that the embassy move could incite violence and further conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim all or part of the holy city as their capital, but the UN’s drawn up plan in 1947 conceived Jerusalem as an “international city.” This idea never held up due to the following wars between Israel and its neighbors, which turned Jerusalem into occupied territory.

In 1980, Israel passed a law that declared Jerusalem the united capital, but the UN Security Council responded with a resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. The UNSC declared the action a violation of international law.

Israel’s response to the UNSC resolution has been to continue annexing land in and around Jerusalem, building settlements, and restricting freedoms of Palestinians living there. Israel has also been leasing a plot of land in Jerusalem to the U.S. since 1989 under a 99-year lease costing only $1 per year. To this day, the land remains empty, but with Trump in office, it could be used by the U.S. for the first time ever.

If he moves the embassy, President Trump will diminish the Palestinians’ chance to finally get an independent, contiguous state that includes East Jerusalem. This decision will mean that the U.S. effectively recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which would overturn 70 years of international consensus and eventually signal the end of the two-state solution, as well as an indefinite future of occupation for Palestinians.