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House Republicans call out Biden for refusing Israeli escort during his visit to East Jerusalem

Zeldin: Biden’s visit to Jerusalem hospital serves to inflame tensions, rather than advance peace

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY) speaking at a press conference of House Republicans who "Stand With Israel," May 20, 2021 (Photo: Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)

As U.S. President Joe Biden prepares for the next stop of his trip of the Middle East, the House Republican Israel Caucus criticized his denial of Israel’s request to accompany him to a hospital in East Jerusalem. 

The GOP representatives urged Biden to cancel the visit to the eastern part of the capital. 

“No U.S. president in recent history has visited East Jerusalem outside of the Old City, and to do so now in this manner would serve to inflame tension, rather than advance peace,” caucus members said in a letter to Biden. 

Biden is slated to visit a hospital on Friday in territory which Palestinians claim as their future capital, without any Israeli officials permitted to join. When asked at a Thursday press conference if he intends to reconsider the decision, Biden said no. 

U.S. representatives Lee Zeldin, R-NY, Doug Lamborn, R-CO, Joe Wilson, R-SC, and David Kustoff, R-TN – co-chairs of the House Republican Israel Caucus – cowrote the letter to the president opposing his scheduled visit. 

“Jerusalem today is the undivided capital of the State of Israel, as recognized by U.S. law. Yet, your administration continues to signal support for the division of the city,” wrote the lawmakers. 

“The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 clearly states that ‘Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected … Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,’” stated the letter, echoing sentiments voiced by Israeli right-wing politicians, pundits and activists. 

The president’s visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital will take place prior to his meeting with the chair of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem. In the background, reports have circled that the Biden administration intends to push for the reopening of a consulate in Jerusalem for separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians. In 2019, former U.S. President Donald Trump closed the consulate, which functioned as a de facto embassy to Palestinians. 

“After the subsequent move to shift the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU) out of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel’s reporting chain of command and rename the PAU the ‘U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs,’ your visit will only further serve to support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to divide Jerusalem,” the caucus members wrote to Biden.

“Because Biden’s actions go against U.S. legislation, The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995,” which states that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city,” the caucus said they were “dismayed when your administration proposed to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, that would provide separate diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians.” 

In addition, they claimed this “would discourage a stable, secure future by rewarding rather than acknowledging the real obstacles to peace demanded by the Palestinian Authority.”

“We have seen the Palestinian Authority refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, support terrorism through incitement to violence and providing payments to terrorists and their families, encourage discriminatory boycotts … and facilitate an illegitimate International Criminal Court investigation for false charges against Israel,” the Republican group attested.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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