Looking westward from the Mount of Olives outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, one sees first the gilt dome of the Harem es- Sharif and, just beyond, the silver dome of the al-Aqsa mosque. The site occupied by these two Islamic shrines, the Temple Mount, is the third-holiest place in Islam; only Mecca and Medina supersede it in religious significance. What one cannot see from the Mount of Olives is the Western Wall at the base of the Temple Mount. It is the most revered place in the Judaic tradition, and in the juxtaposition of these two holy sites lies the rub. Soon Congress will vote on a bill jointly sponsored by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D- N.Y.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) to relocate the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem. Leaving aside the fundamental question of congressional authority over what is defined by the Constitution as the sole prerogative of the executive branch, the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem would be a tragic political mistake. In the long run, relocation would have the ironic effect of doing exactly the opposite of what its sponsors intend of it: enhance the security of Israel by legitimizing its hold on Jerusalem and, by extension, over all the territories occupied since 1967. It is unfortunate that initial opposition to the relocation plan was couched in the vivid imagery used by the American ambassador to Egypt, Nicholas Veliotis, who asked that he be given advance notice of any plan to move to Jerusalem so that he would have sufficient time to protect his staff from hostile Moslem reaction. That there would be extremist retaliation against American diplomatic and business personnel living overseas may be true, but it is not the threat of violence that makesthe transfer of the embassy wrong. Nor is the move ill-advised because of its disregard for international opinion as embodied in U.N. Resolution 267, unanimously adopted by the Security Council in July 1969, censuring all measures taken to change the status of Jerusalem and calling upon Israel to rescind all unilateral actions. In relocating the embassy in Jerusalem, the United States would violate both the letter and spirit of a resolution it supported by granting a measure of international recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of an Israeli state containing territories occupied since 1967, and thereby effectively abrogating the city's special status within the overall peace negotiations. In considering whether to move or not to move, the only proper question to ask is "Will relocation enhance or diminish the prospects for peace in the Middle East?" Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would effectively enlarge the arena of debate well beyon the bounds of the current Arab-Israeli dispute. Relocation would be a blatantly confrontational act regarded by nearly a billion Moslems in Africa, the Middle East and Asia as something between a gross personal insult and an outright act of war. As such, it would be a polarizing act, driving the wedge between Moslem and Jew deeper and causing pointless confrontation between America and the more than 60 Islamic nations around the world that must each consider the growing impact of religious fundamentalists within their respective societies. Continued confrontation, whether between Arab and Israeli or between East and West, is not in anyone's interest, least of all Israel's. In an environment of heightened confrontation, Israel would be forced to continue its dehabilitating spending on defense and settlements, which serves to further disrupt an economy in chaos. Relocati population. It is likely that the relocation plan will gain momentum in the current presidential debate. Already, candidates Mondale and Hart are vying to determine who is the greater friend of Israel. The sad irony is that their chosen means of demonstrating this friendship--moving the embassy to Jerusalem--exacerbates the problems by introducing intensely held religious beliefs to the already complex secular debate. The issues relating to the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem deserve to be debated on their merits and not on their potential for votes. One may yet hope that what is politically expedient now may not appear so attractive from the post-Nov. 6 perspective. In the meantime, Jerusalem remains a city of hope at a time of unprecedented despair; a city of ancient beauty and of present pain. To move the American Embassy there is neither in our own immediate interests nor in the longer-term interests of Israel.