Two House subcommittees yesterday approved a resolution saying the U.S. Embassy in Israel should be moved to Jerusalem, but congressional sources said there was little chance that the controversial resolution will be considered by the Foreign Affairs Committee or the full House before Congress adjourns at the end of the week.
As a result, the embassy legislation, which had been vehemently opposed by the Reagan administration and which earlier had threatened to become a major election-year issue, appears to be dead for this year. However, proponents of moving the embassy said they had scored a major victory in making the matter a subject of serious debate, and they predicted that the resolution will be reintroduced in the new Congress next year.
In yesterday's action, a joint session of the subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East and the international operations subcommittee adopted by voice vote a resolution "expressing the sense of the Congress" that the embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem even though the United States does not recognize Israel's sovereignty there.
The nonbinding resolution was introduced last month by Reps. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and Benjamin A. Gilman (R-N.Y.) as a substitute for an earlier bill that would have ordered the move. The sponsors agreed to the watered-down version to assuage concerns by some members that the other version was an unconstitutional incursion by Congress into the president's policy-making powers.
President Reagan has opposed even nonbinding language on the grounds that it would antagonize Arab governments, harm U.S. efforts to act as an impartial mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict and expose U.S. facilities and personnel in Moslem countries to attack.
Despite administration opposition, sympathy for Israel and concern about the Jewish vote in an election year had caused a majority in both houses of Congress to declare their support for the legislation.