The Foreign Service Journal - March 2017
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MARCH 2017


The 2017 version of the bill contains

a proposal to cut in half spending desig-

nated for security at embassies world-

wide. U.S. diplomats and staff working

under threat conditions, wherever they

serve, will incur even greater risks if this


The principles that underlie our

Middle East policies have been in place

since the post-World War I era and the

independence of Israel after 1948, and

they apply to the status of Jerusalem, at

the epicenter of complex local, regional

and global fault lines across that part of

the world.

The United States has, from the recog-

nition of the independence of the State of

Israel, maintained a consistent position

on the Jerusalem question and its cen-

trality to the conflicting stances by Israel

and the Palestinians as to Jerusalem’s

primacy as their capital city.

Certainly, since 1948, there have

been efforts to relocate the U.S. embassy

from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as part of the

U.S. commitment to the very existence

of Israel. Such a move—or even the

suggestion that this relocation might

be considered in the near term, or even

the foreseeable future—runs great risks

that would touch a “seismic” zone that

extends beyond Jerusalem and our

commitment to Israel as a state.

In its basic application, the U.S.

stance on Jerusalem that has stood for

almost 70 years maintains the prin-

ciple that the parties to the central

dispute must themselves negotiate how

Jerusalem can best exist in a crucible of

conflict that goes far beyond the narrow

focus of the city itself.

Many who have commented on the

current simmering of the issue know

well the wider implications of the dis-

pute, and the historic political, religious

and geographic complexities that make

this Gordian knot impossible (at this

time, at least) to untie.

The present state of affairs throughout

the Middle East (and bordering lands),

and the inability of the United Nations

and the major powers outside the region

to modify the “tectonics” of the issue,

require that policies meant to avert slip-

page in the central fault must remain

in place until a modern-day Solomon

descends on the scene.

In the meantime, to move our

embassy to Jerusalem will only exacer-

bate the stresses on the fault. Ignoring the

inherent potential for disaster in such a

decision would be folly, pure and simple.

David Rabadan

FSO, retired

Annandale, Virginia



“Notes to the New Administration”

in the January-February


, the entry

by Michelle Dworkin (“Set an Example

of Respect for Diversity”) misstated the

number of Locally Employed staff sup-

porting USAID overseas. According to

the June 2016 USAID Staffing Report, the

number is 4,935, not 10,000.


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