The Deception Surrounding the "Jerusalem Bill"

On September 30, 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal year 2003. The bill provides $8.6 billion in funding for the State Department for the fiscal year 2003. This includes funding that President Bush needs to use for operations around the globe.

Included in the bill were several provisions regarding Jerusalem. The Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1646) includes the following provisions (Sec. 214, 215):

The Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, to immediately begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

No funds may be spent on the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which deals mostly with Palestinian issues, until the post comes under the supervision of the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Currently, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department.

All federal documents listing countries and their capitals must identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

American citizens born in Jerusalem can demand that U.S. government-issued documents, such as passports and birth certificates, identify Israel as their birthplace.

The Secretary of State is to report to Congress within 60 days on U.S. efforts to ensure and promote Israel's full participation in the world diplomatic community.

What Bush did was sign the bill but disregarded all the items pertaining to Jerusalem. Following is the excerpt on Jerusalem from President Bush's 30 September statement [distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State]. Pay particular attention to the last sentence.

[--- begin excerpt ---]
"I have today signed into law H.R. 1646, the 'Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003.' This Act authorizes appropriations, and provides important new authorities, for diplomatic and related activities of the U.S. Government. Many provisions in the Act will strengthen our ability to advance American interests around the globe, including nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to meet our international commitments, including those to the United Nations. Regrettably, the Act contains a number of provisions that impermissibly interfere with the constitutional functions of the presidency in foreign affairs, including provisions that purport to establish foreign policy that are of significant concern?

Section 214, concerning Jerusalem, impermissibly interferes with the President's constitutional authority to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch. Moreover, the purported direction in section 214 would, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the President's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the Nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states. U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed."
[--- end excerpt ---]

Quoting from a press release from the State Department: "Noting that the section calling for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital interferes with his constitutional authority, the President said he would consider such provisions to be 'advisory,' rather than 'mandatory.'"

I am not sure if there is any precedent for a U.S. president signing a bill whereby he accepts part of it but waves off that which does not suit his agenda. While one part of it is a recommendation, the other parts are clearly mandated by Congress, which can be overridden only by a presidential veto of the entire bill. It would then have to be rewritten, eliminating those clauses, and passed by the House and Senate before being signed by the president. This is the main reason that unpopular items are attached as amendments to other bills. Mr. Bush has, in fact, created a line-item veto.

The ridiculous part of this whole fiasco is that many people believe that he didn't really mean it and that a bill regarding Jerusalem was passed and signed by the president. An "Action Alert" sent out by the National Unity Coalition for Israel states: "Thank the President and Congress for passing the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, regarding the status of Jerusalem. President Bush must understand that with his signature this has become the law of the land and is not 'advisory only', as he mistakenly stated."

The fact is that he really did mean it. He even said that he meant it. He did not make a mistake. The problem is that everybody wants to apologize for Bush even though he specifically says that he will not change the policy on Jerusalem or that he is dedicated to a 'Palestinian' state in the midst of Israel.

Deception is not pretty. It takes two to create a deception: one who puts forth the deception and one who is willing to accept the deception without being discerning.

[ Lee Underwood, Editor - Emet News Service | Published: October 6, 2002 ]

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