Former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush told supporters Saturday that he believes in Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and would like to see the American embassy moved there, CNN reported.
Speaking in Nashville at the Tennessee GOP’s Statesmen’s Dinner, Bush answered a question regarding whether Jerusalem should remain Israel’s capital “forever”.
“I support that, absolutely,” said Bush, who has yet to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. “I also support moving the embassy to Jerusalem as well — our embassy. Not just as a symbol but a show of solidarity,” he added.
The US embassy in Israel is located in Tel Aviv, along with those of most countries. Although Israel maintains Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinians also lay claim to the city as the capital of a future independent state. The status of Jerusalem in the international eye has been hotly contested. Today, no foreign embassies are located in Jerusalem, though many countries have consulates there and Bolivia and Paraguay have their embassies just outside the holy city.
In 1995, US Congress passed a law recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and mandating the relocation of the American embassy, but successive presidents, including Bush’s brother, George W. Bush, have signed waivers every six months to delay implementation, citing security and diplomatic concerns.
In defending his position, Jeb Bush pointed out, “Clearly, the number one ally we have in the Middle East is Israel, and we should show our support consistently, because if not us, who?”
Bush is expected to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination at the end of the month. He will join an unprecedented 16 hopefuls vying for the nomination.
At the Nashville dinner, Bush also touched on subjects ranging from the controversial Patriot Act, which is up for renewal, to President Barack Obama’s foreign policy failings. He also called for greater diversity in the Republican party, saying, “The next Republican that will win will campaign in the Latino community, will campaign amongst Asian-Americans, will campaign in the black churches, will campaign in college campuses.”