Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Calif) emphasized today that the legislation introduced in Congress to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel and the Ambassador’s residence from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is not a “symbolic gesture.”
“We will make a full court press to expedite procedures on this legislation through both Houses so as to present the President with this legislation for his signature well before the November elections,” Lantos said at a press conference at which he announced that Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R. N.Y.) and he had introduced the necessary legislation in the House yesterday.
Their bill is similar to the one introduced earlier in the Senate by Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D.N.Y.). A hearing on Moynihan’s bill will be held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow.
Lantos said that if President Reagan maintains his principles in which he expressed his commitment to a united Jerusalem, he will sign the bill.
While the five Congressmen present at today’s press conference stressed the bi-partisan support for the legislation in Congress, Rep. Robert Mrazek (D. N.Y.) noted that this was the “one year” when the President could be expected to sign it.
URGES END TO THE ‘HYPOCRISY’
Lantos called for an end to the “hypocrisy” that has existed in which the U.S. maintains “close relations with our friend and ally, Israel, but denies it uniquely the right to determine its own capital by refusing to have our Embassy located where it decided its capital should be.”
Gilman said that “eight successive administrations — each President since Truman, regardless of party–has been heed less of the need to move our Embassy to the actual capital” of Israel which has been its capital “since the establishment of the Jewish State.” In no other country in the world is the U.S. Embassy situated outside the administrative capital,” he said.
Rep. Bill Green (R. N.Y.) noted that although the U.S. does not recognize East Berlin as the capital of East Germany, its Embassy is located there. Lantos added that when Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, the U.S. Embassy moved there, too.
PROBLEM OF THE U.S. CONSULATE IN EAST JERUSALEM
Mrazek also noted the particular problem of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem which, he said, has very little coordination with the Embassy and takes a different approach from the Ambassador. The Consulate, which reports directly to the State Department rather than to the Ambassador, has been accused of anti-Israel bias.
Gilman also brought up the U.S. government’s refusal to have any official dealings with Israel in East Jerusalem. He noted that last June, a meeting between U.S. Deputy Attorney General Mark Richards and Israeli Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir — on the possibility of deporting Nazi war criminals living in the U.S. to Israel — was postponed indefinitely because the U.S. refused to meet in Zamir’s East Jerusalem office.
Lantos rejected any claim that Congressional action would interfere with the President’s Constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy. He said this was not conduct of foreign policy, adding that Congress always had the right to be included in the “formulation of policy.” In addition, Congress has frequently acted on Consulates and in the past, for example, prevented a previous administration from closing some consulates.
Rep. Philip Crane (R. III.) said that in 1980 he sponsored similar legislation as part of an appropriations measure but this was rejected by his colleagues as an “irresponsible” method. Lantos and the others warned that if the current legislation is vetoed by the President, they would tie the Embassy move to an appropriations bill.
Lantos and Gilman noted that both the Democratic and Republican parties have supported the Embassy move to Jerusalem in their past convention platforms and expressed confidence that they would do the same this year. Lantos noted that several of the Democratic candidates are co-sponsors of the Moynihan bill and that former Vice President Walter Mondale has made a commitment that the Embassy move would be one of his. first acts if he is elected President.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.