WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 -- Senate lawmakers worked out a compromise Monday on a Republican-backed bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by 1999. Republicans sponsors of the bill, led by Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole, agreed to give President Clinton a 'presidential waiver' allowing him to indefinitely postpone the 1999 deadline for moving the embassy. While previous versions of thee bill had no such language, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., convinced proponents that giving the White House this concession might make the President more likely to sign off on the legislation. A vote is expected on Tuesday. The new language would enable President Clinton to postpone moving the embassy by six months and would not limit the number of postponements. The Clinton administration has criticized the timing of the legislation saying it could harm Israeli-Palestinian peace talks started after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat signed a landmark peace accord in Washinton two years ago. The administration has also said legislation directing the movement of an embassy interferes with the constitutional powers of the executive branch to conduct foreign policy. But Dole, the leading GOP candidate for president, has pressed the issue and said moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would mark a strong show of support for its ally. The status of Jerusalem -- considered among the most sacred places for Muslims, Christians and Jews alike -- is to be determined in a final set of talks to begin late next year.
Israel considers Jerusalem to be its 'eternal and undivided' capital. Palestinians hope it will be the capital of a state it hopes to form once occupied territories are turned over to them. Most countries do not regonize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and station their embassies in Tel Aviv. Some countries consider the parts of East Jerusalem that Israel annexed in 1967 to be occupied territory. The Senate's action on moving the embassy comes the same week Rabin and the mayor of Jerusalmen are to travel to Washington for a ceremony to commemorate the ancient city's anninversary.