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Moynihan Reintroduces Bill to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

June 16, 1988
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Sen. Daniel Moynihan (D-N.Y.) reintroduced Monday his 1983 Senate bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A Capitol Hill source said the measure, which had 51 Senate and 228 House supporters in 1983, will likely not be brought to a vote, but was reintroduced as a matter of “principle.”

The move was in reaction to Secretary of State George Shultz’s criticism last week of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who said he might move the embassy to Jerusalem if elected president.

Yosef Gal, the Israeli Embassy spokesman, had no specific reaction to Moynihan’s move except to say “I have never had any doubt where the capital of Israel is,” and that it “will continue to be” the capital.

The 1983 bill was not voted on after State Department officials told Moynihan it would damage relations with Arab states.

The State Department also reassured him it would work through quiet diplomacy to seek rescission of a statement from the seventh conference of heads of state of nonaligned nations (March 7-11, 1983), that West Jerusalem is occupied Arab territory, Moynihan said in a statement released by the Dukakis campaign Saturday.

Moynihan complained that he is “not aware that there was any diplomacy” from the United States to have the 100 nations attending that conference “withdraw this infamous declaration.”

On the Senate floor Monday, Moynihan said he was “surprised” to hear Shultz voice his opposition to moving the embassy.

Shultz told NBC-TV’s “Today” show that such a move would be a “mistake,” since East Jerusalem is “regarded as occupied territory” and that the city’s status is “subject to negotiations.”

Dukakis, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, told the Los Angeles Times May 26 that “if Israel wants its capital in Jerusalem, then, as far as I’m concerned, its capital is in Jerusalem.”

One of the source said “nobody on the Hill wants a fight” over the measure during an election year, but that Moynihan “will be prepared to remind” Dukakis or Vice President George Bush about Congress’ position on the issue if elected president.

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