Former Florida Governor and likely GOP 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush called Saturday for the U.S. embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a political statement, according to a CNN report.
“I support that, absolutely,” Bush said, responding to a question about whether the city should be Israel’s capital “forever.”
“I also support moving the embassy to Jerusalem as well — our embassy. Not just as a symbol but a show of solidarity,” he added, speaking to reporters in Nashville before the Tennessee GOP’s Statesmen’s Dinner.
The U.S. has a longstanding policy of declining to recognize any country as having sovereignty over the holy city of Jerusalem, which Israel proclaimed as its capital in 1950, but Palestinians also claim as the capital of a future state. The vast majority of world governments pursue a similar policy to that of the U.S. on the matter.
Bush raised some eyebrows earlier this month, when he told a gathering of supporters that he relies closely on his brother, former president George W. Bush, forguidance and advice on Israel and Middle East policy.
Bush is not the first Republican presidential aspirant in recent years to call for the U.S. to move its Israeli embassy. In 2012, Mitt Romney expressed a similar view, and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both made campaign pledges to move the embassy, but did not once in office.
A U.S. law passed in 1995 designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and stipulates the American embassy should move to the city from Tel Aviv. However, the past three presidents, including Barack Obama, have signed waivers suspending the law, citing security and diplomatic concerns, according to CNN.
Some commentators have expressed the view that the reluctance of sitting presidents to relocate the embassy can be explained by U.S. reliance on oil imports from the Middle East. Officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would likely anger many Middle Eastern states, including Saudi Arabia, and jeopardize important diplomatic and economic relationships.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case brought by a the parents of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem in 2002, who asked for their child’s place of birth to be listed as Israel, but were refused by the State Department.