Silver lining in the delay to move the US embassy to Jerusalem:  New momentum to update the relocation law to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel.

Covering events in the US capitol when Congress passed the “US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act” in October 1995, there were great expectations that the US would then renounce its position adopted in 1948 that Jerusalem would not be recognized as a part of Israel.

There was also speculation that the US would abandon its position from 1948 stating that all of Jerusalem must be a corpus separatum – an international zone.

However, the final wording of the US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act removed any explicit references to Jerusalem as part of Israel and made no promise that Jerusalem would remain the exclusive capital of Israel.

The late Faisal Husseini, head of the PLO Jerusalem committee, was present in Washington at the time, as was the architect of the Oslo process, Yossi Beilin, who was then the deputy foreign minister of Israel.  Both Husseini and Beilin endorsed the new wording of the US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act in 1995, as it was passed into law.

In other words, the US embassy relocation act did not violate two cardinal rules of US policy since 1948; Jerusalem was not to be recognized as a part of Israel, and Jerusalem could still become an international zone.

The US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act preceded the War of Independence, declaring that Jerusalem must be defined as an international zone under US trusteeship, and remain extraterritorial to Israel.  The US State Department went so far as to appoint its own governor for Jerusalem.  The assassination of the UN envoy to Jerusalem in September 1948 suspended that process, but did not cancel US policy.

A case in point:  The family of Ben Blutstein, a US citizen who was murdered by a terrorist bomb in July 2002 while eating lunch in the Frank Sinatra cafeteria at the Hebrew University, could not get the US State Department to allow his US death certificate to read “Jerusalem, Israel.” The same US policy applies to birth certificates.  An American whose child is born in Jerusalem receives a birth certificate which defines the place of birth as Jerusalem, with no nation stated.

Meanwhile, the delay in the application of the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem can now energize the advocates of the US initiative to recognize Jerusalem as a part of Israel and to campaign for the US Congress and White House to act upon legislative changes that should take place before the US embassy is moved.

If the US embassy had moved to Jerusalem under the current constraints of US law, that would have established the “de jure” precedent that the US embassy would move without recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

If the US still does not recognize Jerusalem as a part of Israel, the next time Israel objects to an Arab war education curriculum in Jerusalem, and the next time Israel objects to a given policy at the Western Wall, the US can simply repeat the mantra “Well, Jerusalem does not belong to you.”

Wise advice to those who have been so passionate in the fight to move the embassy to Jerusalem – Best to first ask Congress to enact a US law that would recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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