Feinstein Urges Trump Not to Change Jerusalem Policy, Six Months After Voting for Him to Do So

By Patrick Goodenough | December 6, 2017 | 4:14 AM EST

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (Screengrab: YouTube)

(CNSNews.com) – Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has written to President Trump, urging him not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or to announce he is moving the U.S. Embassy to the city.

Exactly six months ago Tuesday, the senior senator from California voted in favor of a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem, and calling on the president to “abide by” the provisions of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

That 1995 legislation said Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital, and required the president to move the embassy from Tel Aviv by May 31, 1999. Feinstein, the eighth-longest serving senator, voted in favor of it on Oct. 24, 1995.

The legislation has been periodically waived ever since by Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and – last June – Trump.

In her Dec. 1 letter to the president, which she drew attention to on her Twitter feed on Tuesday, Feinstein said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would spark violence, further alienate the United States and undermine the prospects of a two-state solution.”

“Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – or relocating our embassy to Jerusalem – will spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate,” she wrote.

Feinstein noted that Democratic and Republican presidents alike have not recognized the city as the capital of Israel, “in order to remain impartial.”

She warned Trump that his decision could put a “two-state solution” out of reach.

Meanwhile Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was quoted by the Weekly Standard Tuesday expressing concern about Trump’s planned announcement, saying that the capital and embassy issues “should be part of negotiations for eventual final status.”

Booker was one of 14 Democrats who joined 31 Republicans in co-sponsoring the resolution last spring calling on the president to “abide by” the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

But when the resolution, which was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), came up for a vote, Booker was one of ten senators who did not vote. It passed 90-0.

Last January, Booker also co-sponsored – along with 29 other Democrats and 48 Republicans – a measure objecting to the passage of a controversial U.N. Security Council resolution which described areas disputed between Israelis and Palestinians, including eastern Jerusalem, as “occupied Palestinian territory.” (The Senate resolution has not been voted on.)

U.N. Security Council resolution 2334 was adopted on December 23 after the Obama administration chose not to exercise its veto.

Spokespeople for Feinstein and Booker did not respond to invitations Tuesday to comment on the apparent contradictions.

In contrast, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is on the record as calling as recently as October for Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

He told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that doing so would “appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification and show the world that the U.S. definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Schumer was also a co-sponsor of McConnell’s resolution last June urging the president to “abide by” the provisions of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Incidentally, among the “yes” votes for the 1995 legislation, which passed 93-5, were then-Senators Joe Biden and John Kerry.

In their campaigns for the White House, Democratic nominees Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore all pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem – as did then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in his 1992 presidential campaign. So too did Republicans George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

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Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow