U.S. Senate Approves Resolution Celebrating '50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem'

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Far right Israeli supporters wave the Israeli flag as they demonstrate on May 24, 2017 in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City to commemorate Jerusalem Day.
Far right Israeli supporters wave the Israeli flag as they demonstrate on May 24, 2017 in front of Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City to commemorate Jerusalem Day.Credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Monday approved a resolution celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Israel's conquering of East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, under the headline "50th Anniversary of the Reunifcation of Jerusalem." The resolution, which passed by a 90-0 vote, was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY), in a sign of strong bipartisan support for the Israeli government's position on the disputed holy city. 

Schumer was one of the original co-sponsors of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which called on the U.S. government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy to the city. He said after the vote that the new resolution re-affirms the legislation he helped pass in 1995. "The semi-centennial of the reunification of Jerusalem is an important milestone for Israel and Jewish people across the globe given that Jerusalem has been a focal point of Jewish life for thousands of years," Schumer said in a statement.

He added that "the resolution also affirms the longstanding policy of the United States government that a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations without preconditions for a sustainable two-state solution.” The fact that the resolution received major support from Republican senators despite this emphasis isn't trivial: In recent years there has been growing pressure on Republican legislators from the right-wing parts of the Jewish community, to oppose any mention of the two-sate solution.

At the same time, the resolution also states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and a united city in which all religious faiths are respected and protected," Schumer explained. He added that the resolution also "reaffirms the Senate’s support for Israel’s commitment to religious freedom and support in strengthening the mutually beneficial American-Israeli relationship." 

Last week, Schumer criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for failing to fulfill his election promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump signed a presidential waiver delaying the move by at least six months, in light of his attempts to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The White House declared that Trump still intends to move the embassy during his time as president, and that it is "a question of when, not if."

Schumer still blasted the president, offering rare criticism from the Democratic side of the aisle where there is a growing opposition to the current right-wing Israeli government's positions on the conflict with the Palestinians. Schumer stated that “as someone who believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am deeply disappointed in President Trump’s decision." He also raised the following question - "will those who criticized President Obama for not moving the Embassy make their voices just as loud and just as strong when it comes to President Trump’s failure to move the Embassy?”

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