Friday, March 29, 2013

Policies and the Law

This letter was published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine, March 29, 2013. A copy was also sent to President Obama.

As an American who resides part-time in Israel, I have long been astounded by the counterproductive strategies of the executive branch of the US government.

The explanations given by Efraim Cohen ("undiplomatic severance," Letters, March 15), former cultural attache at the only American embassy in the world which is not located in the host country's capital, omit crucial facts which show the policies Cohen describes are in contravention of American law.

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed overwhelmingly by Congress, states "Jerusalem should remain an undivided city," that it "should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel" and that the US Embassy in Israel should be "established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999," while giving the president the authority to delay the relocation.

All the more absurd is Cohen's explanation that the consulate in Jerusalem represents the US vis-a-vis the Palestinians. This is akin to Great Britain having a consulate in Washington for the Cubans while locating its embassy in New York.

Moreover, statements by American officials regarding negotiations over the status of Jerusalem, including a possible division, clearly conflict with the official American policy signed into law by President Clinton nearly two decades ago. The actions of the executive branch are also counterproductive to any peace process, since they encourage Arab intransigence that is the heart of the conflict.

One of the most productive actions President Obama could take would be to finally move the US embassy to where it belongs, in Jerusalem, and move the consulateto Ramallah.

Alan H. Stein

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