Last updated on: 5/16/2008 11:12:00 AM PST

What Is the Position of the United States on the Dispute over Jerusalem?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS), in an Oct. 10, 2003 Issue Brief for Congress titled "Palestinians and Middle East Peace: Issues for the United States," provided the following information:

"Palestinians claim that Israel must withdraw from east Jerusalem, seized by Israel in the 1967 war along with the rest of the West Bank. Palestinians maintain that east Jerusalem will become the capital of the Palestinian state. Israel, which has claimed Jerusalem as its capitol since 1948, annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, and claims that Jerusalem’s status is not negotiable. No other country recognizes Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem.

The July 25, 1994 Jordan-Israel non-belligerency agreement states that Israel 'respects ... the special role' played by Jordan in Muslim religious shrines in Jerusalem. Arafat had stated in the past that the Palestinian entity would be responsible for non-Jewish religious shrines in the holy city. The Jordan-Israel agreement appears to set the stage for a future contest or cooperation between Jordan and Palestine over the religious sites.

The United States has maintained a policy since 1967 that the future of the city must be negotiated and cannot be decided unilaterally, and that the city should not be divided as it was between 1948 and 1967.

In 1990, Congress [under President H.W. Bush] opposed the Administration position and passed resolutions acknowledging that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and should not be a divided city (H.Con.Res. 290, passed on April 24, 1990, and S.Con.Res. 106, passed on March 22, 1990). In 1995, Congress passed S. 1322 (P.L. 104-45, November 8, 1995) that stated that the U.S. embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The law provides a presidential waiver if maintaining the embassy in Tel Aviv is in the U.S. national interest. (See CRS Report 94-755, Jerusalem, dated February 21, 1995.)

On July 27, 2000, President Clinton told an Israeli interviewer that he favored moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but signed waivers to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. During the 2000 campaign, George Bush said he favored moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but since becoming President has signed waivers delaying the move.

Section 214 of P.L. 107-228, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003, states that Congress maintains its commitment to moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, bans funds appropriated in the Act from being used to support the Jerusalem consulate unless the U.S. ambassador to Israel has authority over the consulate, declares that publications financed under the Act must list Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and states that any U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem may request that their birthplace be listed as Israel. President Bush issued a statement on September 30, 2002, that he considered the section to be advisory, not binding, and that the section interfered with his constitutional authority to conduct the nations’ foreign relations. The statement also said that U.S. policy toward Jerusalem remained unchanged, which implied that the United States holds that the future of Jerusalem must be negotiated and not be decided unilaterally, as the Israelis have done."

Oct. 10, 2003 - Congressional Research Service (CRS)