President Joe Biden plans to leave the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, recognizing the holy city as the capital of the Jewish state.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken said during an interview Tuesday night with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he — and the Biden administration — recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital, a shift first made by former President Donald Trump.
Trump announced his decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017, according to CBN News.
While the Senate voted 90-0 in 2017 to move the embassy, not a single Democrat was in the congressional delegation that attended the opening of the new location in 2018, according to The Post and Courier.
“You’d think one [Democrat] would have come,” said Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic senator who attended the opening, noting there were nearly 250 Democrats in Congress at the time.
Republican consultant Artie Lipnick added: “That no Democrats could be bothered to fly out made it by definition a partisan event.”
While then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not attend the opening, his office did issue a statement, saying, “Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, saying at the time the Republican had made “the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever.”
Trump’s U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told CBN News in 2018: “The inspiration [at the embassy’s opening in Jerusalem] was palpable. Candidly, it was a little bit of a relief, because we’ve been planning for this for 25 years and, thank God, it came. It was just an incredible moment, one that will probably take me weeks to process all my emotions.”
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all punted on the Jerusalem Embassy Act, invoking waivers every six months that allowed them to leave the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for “national security” reasons.
Obama opposed Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, warning the then-incoming president doing so would be “explosive.”
The confirmation of Blinken as Biden’s secretary of State came just days after the Senate voted 97-3 in favor of a congressional budget amendment that kept the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The lawmakers who opposed the amendment were Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).
Blinken’s support for keeping the embassy in Jerusalem is in line with Biden’s 2020 campaign promise not to move it back to Tel Aviv.