The Trump Administration moved the United States embassy to Israel to Jerusalem in 2018 in compliance with the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Since that time, the U.S. has encouraged other countries to move their embassies, and Guatemala moved theirs shortly thereafter. Honduras announced plans to have their embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2020, and Serbia and Malawi announced their intentions to do move their embassies in the near future.
A country establishes an embassy in a foreign country to facilitate in person meetings with that government’s people. Typically the vast majority are located in that country’s capital where most government buildings and offices are located. However, there is no obligation to set up an embassy in the capital city. For example, several countries (like Oman) have opted to not place their foreign dignitaries in Canberra, Australia’s capital, because it is a relatively small city in a pretty remote part of the world. There are also several countries (including Andorra, Comoros and Maldives) that locate their embassies to the U.S. in New York City rather than Washington, D.C.
A new Biden administration should continue to push all countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem for very practical and environmental reasons: it would take hundreds of cars off the road every day.
Currently, most countries have their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv, about 42 miles from Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is is a great city on the Mediterranean Sea with fantastic restaurants and night life (often ranked with Barcelona among the greatest cities in the world) and is close to Israel’s major international airport. However, the hour drive to Jerusalem is often snarled in terrible traffic as is the route back. By relocating embassies to Jerusalem, not only will thousands of miles of unnecessary travel and wasted time be saved, but the burning of fossil fuel and amount of pollution will be dramatically reduced.
As there is no obligation to keep an embassy in a capital city, a relocation to Jerusalem is not a formal acknowledgement of the city as Israel’s capital, an action which may or may not accompany such relocation. What is without question, is that moving embassies to Jerusalem will improve the quality of life on the planet.
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