After several years of badgering Hillary Clinton over the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Republicans have decided embassy security isn’t such a big deal after all. In fact, they consider it such a minor thing that they’ve decided to use funding for embassy security as a hostage to get something they, as well as some Democrats, have dearly wanted — a move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
A bipartisan law passed in 1995 required the embassy move by 1999, but thanks to a national security waiver the past three presidents have been able to ignore the law. Jerusalem is a holy city to all three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Congress has long insisted that the embassy be relocated to the city, but past presidents have been reluctant to do so for fear of damaging the fragile peace process.
Now three Republican senators have decided to turn up the heat. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Dean Heller are sponsoring a bill to force the move from Tel Aviv. The bill would cut funds for embassy security, maintenance, and construction in half unless the move is completed.
Donald Trump has indicated he supports moving the embassy. But, as the Huffington Post reports, both presidents Clinton and George W. Bush voiced support for relocating it during the campaign, but backtracked on the promise once in office. Now Cruz, Rubio, and Heller intend to twist Trump’s arm to prevent any change of heart.
Due to the delicate situation in the Middle East many countries have consulates in Jerusalem, but maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, which served as Israel’s capital until 1980. Now three GOP zealots who were outraged over what happened in Benghazi are presenting an ultimatum — move the embassy and risk inflaming tensions in the Middle East or expose American diplomats and embassy personnel around the world to an increased threat of a terrorist attack. Either way this promises not to end well.