WASHINGTON (Oct. 11)
As Jerusalem moves again to the forefront of peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, a record number of members of Congress sent a letter to President Clinton supporting a united Jerusalem and asking the administration to oppose Palestinian claims to Israel’s capital.
The Oct. 7 letter, signed by 279 members of Congress, said the legislators remain “unwavering” in their belief that “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and only Israel’s capital, and that it must remain a united city under Israeli sovereignty.”
While praising the administration’s efforts to move the peace process forward, the letter also said the representatives were “very concerned” about U.S. government actions which may give credibility to the Palestinian claim on Jerusalem.
It expressed support as well for recent legislation prohibiting the establishment of new offices in Jerusalem to deal with the Palestinian ruling body in the Gaza Strip and Jericho.
Both the House of Representatives and Senate passed such bills earlier this session, which also included a ban on meetings in Jerusalem between American officials and representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
“At this time in the peace process the letter, with its bipartisan support and the number of members who signed it, prove how important Jerusalem is to Israel and how strong the American commitment is to keeping it the unified capital of Israel,” Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the letter’s co-sponsors, said through a spokeswoman.
The letter, signed by 146 Democrats and 133 Republicans, shows strong bipartisan support in Congress for Israel, said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), another co-sponsor.
Reps. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Bill Paxton (R-N.Y.) and Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) also co-sponsored the letter.
Neal Sher, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s executive director, praised the bipartisan support. “This historic statement makes clear Congress’ unyielding bipartisan commitment to Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem,” he said in a statement.