Bush Postpones Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem
US President George W. Bush signed a waiver on Monday, postponing for six months any relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but said he remained committed to such a move in the future, said Haaretz newspaper.
The US Congress passed a bill in 1995 aimed at moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but former President Bill Clinton repeatedly made use of an escape clause in the measure allowing him to postpone the move on the grounds of national security.
Bush cited the same clause in his decision on Monday, announced as he headed to Europe for his first overseas presidential trip, reported Haaretz.
"I hereby determine that it is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States to suspend for a period of six months" implementation of the "Jerusalem Embassy Act," the president wrote in a memorandum to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
But, he added, "My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," the paper quoted him as saying.
Bush campaigned during the 2000 presidential election on a promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but had to step back from that position upon taking office.
The Bush administration now says it has not decided when the process of moving the embassy should begin.
Most countries do not recognize Israel's annexation of occupied east Jerusalem, captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Powell created an uproar and sparked sharp criticism from Gulf states in March when he described Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in an apparent inadvertent reference.
Powell had said that Bush intended to stick by his campaign promise to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
When Clinton first ran in 1992, he advocated moving the embassy. But he never acted, even though Congress several times tried to force his hand by approving funds for it, an earlier report by the Associated Press said.
The issue resurfaced last August, when then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak told Israel television he understood that Clinton planned to move the embassy on his last day in office. Again, the move never materialized, the agency said - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)