U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., is continuing to keep up the pressure to ensure the American embassy in Israel moves from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
On Thursday, DeSantis, the chairman of the U.S. House National Security Subcommittee and a potential gubernatorial next year, unveiled the “Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act,” backing the Trump administration’s decision to move the embassy. DeSantis also ripped into the United Nations for opposing that decision.
“Instead of addressing ongoing international conflicts and working to uphold human rights, the United Nations is holding an emergency session in order to indulge its pathological anti-Israel bias,” DeSantis said. “I am proud to stand by our friends in Israel and to follow up on President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital by introducing the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. For decades, the United States has worked hand in hand with our allies at the UN to provide hundreds of millions in foreign aid, but as President Trump said yesterday, ‘we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.’ Congress should take this vote into consideration as we determine which allies are deserving of our generous foreign aid.”
According to DeSantis’s office, the bill “states that it is U.S. policy to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and expresses the sense of Congress that the president shall relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by January 1, 2019.” More than 25 members of Congress cosponsored the measure including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho.
DeSantis has been increasingly active on this front in recent weeks.
Last month, DeSantis sent a letter to Trump on the matter. Twelve fellow representatives--including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Dennis Ross--signed off on the letter. Earlier in November, DeSantis held a subcommittee meeting and insisted moving the embassy would not pose a security threat and he met with members of the Knesset to talked about American-Israeli relations.
DeSantis has been focused this year on urging the Trump administration to move the embassy in Israel. At the start of the year, DeSantis rounded up more than 100 fellow members of Congress to send a letter Trump on the matter. DeSantis’ effort won the support of some of the members of the Florida delegation including U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who chairs the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. Other members of the Florida delegation who signed the letter were Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Mast and Yoho. Also at the start of the year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with former presidential primary rival U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to bring out the “Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act" which would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In March, DeSantis visited Israel where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leading Israeli officials. During his tour, DeSantis scouted out four sites in Jerusalem where the embassy could be relocated and stopped by the current embassy in Tel Aviv. Back in May, DeSantis, one of the founders of the Israel Victory Caucus in Congress, led the charge to let American citizens born in Jerusalem designate Israel as their birthplace on passports and other documents. DeSantis rounded up more than 50 members of Congress to send a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, urging the State Department to let citizens born in Jerusalem say there were born in Israel. With the U.S. having recognized Jerusalem as a divided city, the State Department has not allowed Jerusalem born citizens to claim Israel as their birthplace. Jerusalem-born American Menachem Zivotofsky took this all the way to U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 but the Court ruled in 2015 that he could not list Israel as his birthplace in a 6-3 ruling as Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samiel Alito and the late Antonin Scalia dissented.
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