There is a fundamental misunderstanding, which is that if the US recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel, that would mean that the US recognizes Jerusalem as part of Israel.
However, the US embassy relocation legislation does not negate the status of Jerusalem’s status as a Corpus Separatum (Latin for “separated body”) as a term used to describe Jerusalem area in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. According to that plan, still supported by the US, the city would be placed under international rule as part of any final resolution of the Middle East state of affairs..
As a journalist, I covered events in the US capitol when Congress passed the US embassy Jerusalem relocation bill in October 1995, also known as the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act”.
There were expectations at the time that the embassy move would mean hat the US would renounce its position, adopted in 1948, that Jerusalem was not to be recognized as a part of Israel and that Jerusalem must be an international zone.
However, the final version of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act removed all explicit references to Jerusalem as “part of Israel” , without mention that Jerusalem would remain the exclusive capital of Israel.
The late Faisal Husseini , who then headed the PLO Jerusalem committee, was present in Washington at the time , as was Yossi Beilin, then deputy foreign minister of Israel –
Both Husseini and Beilin endorsed the wording of Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act in 1995, as it was passed into law, which , as enacted, stated:
(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel.
In other words, the US embassy relocation act did not violate two US premises from 1948; that Jerusalem was not to be recognized as a part of Israel, and that Jerusalem should be extraterritorial to Israel.
US policy will continue to apply to passports and birth certificates of US citizens in Jerusalem, where the word ‘Israel’ does not appear on any official US document issued in Jerusalem. Even in death. The family of a US citizen, Ben Blutstein, killed by a terrorist bomb in July 2002 at 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”.
As to vocal Arab resentment and loud Jewish enthusiasm over the possible implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act , it is doubtful if either side has read the wording of the legislation.
If the US embassy does move to Jerusalem under current constraints of US law, that move will establish the “de jure” precedent that a US embassy move to Jerusalem will not include recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.
A “de jure” US non- recognition of Jerusalem as a part of Israel will mean that if t Israel objects to an Arab education curriculum in Jerusalem, or if Israel objects to a given policy at the Western Wall or the Temple Mount, US diplomats can repeat the mantra that “Jerusalem does not belong to you”.