JERUSALEM, Israel - Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's vision of a united Jerusalem was exceptionally well-received by U.S. congressmen from across the political spectrum in Washington, D.C., last week.
Barkat presented his vision of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state, open to people of all faiths to enjoy, to 15 members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and other key government officials.
Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., accompanied the mayor during his 24-hour stay in Washington, which was a part of a 10-day tour to the U.S.and Canada.
The mayor also met with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Sen. Lieberman said six senators had submitted a bill to bypass the requirement for presidential confirmation to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was passed by both the House and Senate in 1995.
The bill states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.
Successive U.S. administrations have blocked implementation of the law, citing "security concerns."
"We will continue to work together to bring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which I believe will be the first step in bringing additional embassies to the capital, as is the case with all other capitals around the world," Barkat said.
Later, the mayor addressed a standing-room only crowd at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.
"Jerusalem has many friends in Washington," the mayor stated in a press release. "Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, stand as one in their support for Jerusalem as the united capital of the State of Israel," Barkat said.