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U.S. Policy on Jerusalem: Congress Calls for Clearer Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

(September 30, 2002)

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1646), signed by President Bush, includes the following provisions (Sec. 214, 215):

  • The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, to immediately begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  • No funds may be spent on the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which deals mostly with Palestinian issues, until the post comes under the supervision of the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Currently, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department.
  • All federal documents listing countries and their capitals must identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. American citizens born in Jerusalem can demand that U.S. government-issued documents, such as passports and birth certificates, identify Israel as their birthplace.
  • The Secretary of State is to report to Congress within 60 days on U.S. efforts to ensure and promote Israel's full participation in the world diplomatic community.

The White House subsequently issued a statement saying that it considered these provisions nonbinding and that the administration would not implement them. The resolution, President Bush said, "would, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the president's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states."

The President signed the legislation to obtain the funds for the State Department and claimed the Jerusalem provisions were an "advisory not mandatory." The administration maintains that Jerusalem is a "permanent status issue" that has to be resolved between Palestinians and Israelis.

Source: CNN (October 1, 2002)