US NGO urges president not to relocate embassy in Jerusalem
Palestine-USA, Politics, 2/2/2001
The American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ) urged President George W. Bush to refrain from moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to abide by previous U.S. positions regarding the city in order to achieve a fair and lasting peace acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians.
The association said in a released e-mailed to MAP the US chief executive has instructed his aides to begin exploring the process of the relocation.
In a letter to the President, ACJ Chairman Ziad Asali reminded President Bush that "the issue of Jerusalem remains at the core of the lingering differences between Israel and the Palestinians." Asali continued: "Such a move by the United States totally dismisses the feelings, sentiments, and deep attachments of the Arab people, the Muslim peoples and the Christian religious communities -- all of whom have a stake in the future of the city."
Since 1948, successive U.S. administrations have never recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and continue to oppose unilateral actions by any party in the area that affect the status of the city.
Asali also emphasized that the "designated site" on which the embassy is to be built is stolen land. ACJ has, over the past six years, conducted extensive research regarding the background and ownership of the specific site in Jerusalem designated for the purpose of building the new U.S. Embassy. Professor Walid Khalidi, one of the most prominent Middle East scholars, has personally documented and supervised this elaborate research conducted in Jerusalem, London and New York. The findings proved beyond any doubt that the ownership of that plot of land is largely a combination of Palestinian private property and Waqf (Muslim religious endowment) property, for which the British government was paying rent until the moment it left Palestine in May 1948.
Besides, many of the current owners are U.S. citizens. ACJ considers the 1989 lease agreement between Israel and the U.S. null and void because the plot of land in question is not free from and encumbrances or third party claims as claimed by the Israeli government.
The ACJ is a coalition of major Arab-American organizations dedicated to promoting a solution to Jerusalem which accommodates the deep attachments of people of the three monotheistic religions to the city and the political aspirations of both, Palestinians and Israelis.
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