Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Invoking a national security clause, President Bush has suspended the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed for another six months the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Congress overwhelmingly approved the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, mandating that the U.S. Embassy be moved to Jerusalem by May 1999.
Bush pledged during his campaign to begin "the process" of moving the embassy as soon as he took office, but since then, he has signed successive security waivers to postpone the move.
In a memorandum to the Secretary of State on Tuesday, Bush wrote that he has determined it is necessity to suspend the transfer of the embassy for six months in order "to protect the national security interests" of the U.S.
"My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," his memorandum said.
Former President Bill Clinton, who pledged in both of his presidential campaigns to move the embassy, avoided the issue by signing successive six-month security waivers.
After the Israeli-Palestinian talks failed at Camp David in July 2000 -- a failure that Clinton later blamed on Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat - Clinton suggested in a televised interview to the Israeli people that he was considering moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
In reaction, the leader of the Iranian-backed Hizballah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah threatened that if the U.S. did move its embassy, the Arabs would "turn your embassy into rubble and return your diplomats in coffins."
Two weeks later, Clinton spoke about two embassies in Jerusalem - one for Israel and one for a future Palestinian state.
Jerusalem was divided by barbed wire under part Israeli and part Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967. The city was reunited under Israeli control as a result of the 1967 Six-Day war.
Many nations withdrew their embassies from the city in 1980, when Israel enshrined in law its claim to Jerusalem as its "eternal, indivisible capital."
The Palestinians want to see the eastern part of the city - formerly under Jordanian control - become the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Only two countries, Costa Rica and El Salvador, maintain an embassy in Jerusalem.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.