WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barak Obama has ordered the State Department to appropriate full funding for U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world and suspended, for six months, limitations in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 on the funding.
The Act requires that no more than 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department for the acquisition and maintenance of buildings abroad may be released in a fiscal year until the Secretary of State reports to Congress that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened.
The act authorizes the President to suspend the funding restrictions for six months if the President reports to Congress that a suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the U.S. President Clinton, who let the act become law without signing it, and his successor George W. Bush, who argued that the Act was an unconstitutional restriction on the president’s constitutional role, both used this authority to suspend the spending restrictions during their administrations.
An American consulate operates in Jerusalem, but the U.S. Embassy remains in Tel Aviv in part because the status of Jerusalem under international law, following the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel seized portions of the city it did not already control, remains unresolved. In 1980 the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 478 declaring Israel’s Jerusalem Law, which proclaimed that Jerusalem was Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital, null and void. Most U.N. member states relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv in response.