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Following The Law

Last week The Jewish Press published the text of part of attorney Nathan Lewin’s compelling brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the State Department should be required to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to record their place of birth on their passports as “Israel.”

 

Despite the unequivocal law requiring it, the State Department has been singularly intransigent on this matter, apparently as a sop to the authority of the president to “recognize foreign sovereigns” – i.e. control foreign affairs – on the grounds that Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is subject to negotiations with the Palestinians.

 

The U.S. government also continues to provide substantial funds to the Palestinian Authority – funds which, as is now being reported, are being diverted to the support of terrorist activity in direct violation of U.S. law.

 

It is time the U.S. followed its laws – if only to signal to the Palestinians that America will not bend the law in order to accommodate their demands.

 

In his brief to the Supreme Court, Mr. Lewin, said,

 

Congress overwhelmingly enacted a narrow law that gives approximately 50,000 American citizens born in Jerusalem the right to have their passports bear the same “place of birth” as American citizens born in Tel Aviv or Haifa .

 

To be sure, as the Obama administration contends, the Constitution invests the president with principal powers over the conduct of foreign policy. And the State Department has made note of the “strenuous objection” expressed by Palestinians over any recognition of Jerusalem as being part of Israel. Yet the law specifically says what it says, and crediting a different view, however artfully packaged, constitutes a violation of law.

 

U.S. law also provides, with respect to U.S. financial assistance to the PA and Gaza that

 

the Secretary of State shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, private or governmental entity, or educational institution that the Secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity

 

According to a State Department announcement, the U.S. contributed a total of $600 million to the Palestinian Authority in 2010 with $225 million earmarked to a special fund from which regular payments to Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails were made. Virtually all of these prisoners were jailed for terrorist crimes.

 

Palestinian Media Watch reports that the PA pays monthly salaries to 5,500 such prisoners which the PA defines in its official Palestinian Registry as “anyone imprisoned in [Israel's] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation.”

 

These are not hidden facts. How then does the State Department fail to condition any aid on the cessation of such encouragement of terror, which is in clear violation of American interests in the Middle East and, at least as important, of explicit American law?

 

What message does this lack of will send to the Palestinians about how serious we are in holding them to what we publicly demand?

 

At all events, the Palestinians are laughing at us. They continue to incite and encourage violence against Israel but maintain that they are partners for peace. They have never taken the steps necessary to prepare their people to accept Israel as a legitimate entity. And they have never been called to task by the U.S. for their duplicity. Why should they be anything but recalcitrant?

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