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Jerusalem embassy, visa perennials reintroduced in Congress

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two pro-Israel perennials were reintroduced in the new Congress: a bill seeking to force the president to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and one that would waive visa requirements for visiting Israelis.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) introduced the Jerusalem bill on Jan. 3, the first day of the 113th Congress. It differs from the 1995 bill that overwhelmingly passed Congress in that it removes a presidential waiver invoked every six months to prevent moving the embassy as a matter of national security.

It also explicitly says that "every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem," an endorsement of Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem, which the Palestinians and much of the international community maintains is illegal.

Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a measure that would add Israel to the 37 countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the United States for up to 90 days without a pre-arranged visa. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

Congressional lawmakers repeatedly have attempted to pass versions of both laws over the years. A tiny percentage of proposed bills are enacted by the Congress.

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