Senate Bill Says U.S. Must Build Missions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

The Senate voted last week to allow the State Department to build the new diplomatic facilities it wants in Tel Aviv, as long as it constructs comparable compounds in Jerusalem.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and adopted by voice vote as an amendment to the State Department’s 1989 appropriations bill, is intended to force a future U.S. president to decide whether to recognize Tel Aviv or Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel has declared Jerusalem its capital. But the vast majority of nations with whom it has diplomatic relations, including the United States, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Under the Senate bill, the U.S. structures would have to be designed in a way that “equally preserves the ability of the United States to locate its ambassador or its consul general at either site, consistent with U.S. policy.”

The amendment also requires both structures to open at the same time and prevents the State Department from announcing which site will serve as the embassy until construction on at least one of the facilities is close to completion.

A congressional source said the agreement was hammered out by Helms, Sen. Chic Hecht (R-Nev.) and Max Kampelman, counselor to Secretary of State George Shultz.

Should the House approve the measure, the department would likely seek construction money in its 1991 budget request, a State Department official said.

The latest Senate vote comes a few weeks after Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.) reintroduced his 1983 bill to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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