WASHINGTON (WCMH/AP) — On Tuesday, three Republican senators introduced a bill that would slash funding for embassy security if President-elect Trump does not move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem when he enters office.
Senators Marco Rubio, Dean Heller and Ted Cruz have proposed to get rid of a waiver that the last three presidents have used to avoid moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem. Rubio and Cruz both criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
One of Trump’s campaign promises was to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but both former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton made similar promises without delivering. If Trump fails to relocate the embassy, the measure calls for withholding up to half of embassy security funds until the secretary of state determines and reports to Congress that the Jerusalem embassy is officially open.
The city of Jerusalem has long been disputed territory. The eastern side of the city is sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians and remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Tensions over the territory are high after the United Nations Security Council criticized Israel for establishing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
On Thursday, the government of Jordan — a key ally in the Middle East — warned of “catastrophic” repercussions if Trump makes good on the campaign promise of relocating the embassy to Jerusalem.
Jordan’s Information Minister Mohammed Momani said the move would be a “red line” for Jordan, would “inflame the Islamic and Arab streets” and serve as a “gift to extremists.” He also said that Jordan would use all political and diplomatic means to prevent such a decision.
On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Trump not to move the embassy to the holy city.
“We call on you not to implement your statement,” Abbas said. “Because we consider it as an aggressive statement, when you say you want to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
A Trump spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the president-elect is determined to move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv when he takes office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.