First we learned that the traditional pro-Israel language affirming that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was deleted from this year’s Democratic Party Platform. Then, after waves of negative publicity, the Democrats re-inserted the magic language in a balagan that will be remembered as one of the most chaotic moments in political party convention history, despite the lack of an obvious 2/3s majority. In less than an hour, Democratic National Committee Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) was saying, with a straight face, that of course it was the position of this administration, as it always had been, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
And Wasserman Schultz insisted that the position of President Obama has always been that Jerusalem is and always will remain the capital of Israel. What’s more, she stated in numerous interviews, that it was President Obama who made sure that the language be re-inserted into the platform. Never mind that Wasserman Schultz has, throughout this campaign, adamantly supported the State Department Spokeswoman and the White House Press Secretary’s refusal to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
But we’re not done yet.
Less than 24 hours after the “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” language was reinserted, this administration has once again shifted course. In today’s State Department’s daily press conference, the United States officially refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
- Status of Jerusalem
12:52 p.m. EDT
MR. VENTRELL: Okay, good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. We have with us some diplomats who are headed out to be spokespeople at some of our embassies overseas, so welcome to the briefing, to all of you. I don’t have anything else, so I’ll turn it over to you.
QUESTION: On Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, longstanding Administration policy, both in this Administration and in previous administrations across both parties, is that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. So that’s longstanding Administration policy and continues to be so.
QUESTION: I mean, no city is recognized as a capital by the U.S. Government?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I just stated our position, and it’s one we’ve said here many times before.
QUESTION: That means Jerusalem is not a part of Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: What it means is that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in final status negotiations.
QUESTION: But you do have an Embassy in a city which is not Jerusalem.
MR. VENTRELL: Our Embassy is in Tel Aviv, and we have a Consulate General in Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you have an Embassy, usually it’s in the capital; so therefore, it would appear that you believe that Tel Aviv is the capital.
MR. VENTRELL: What we believe is that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in final status negotiations between the two parties. And currently, our Embassy is in Tel Aviv.
QUESTION: Are there any other countries in the world where the U.S. doesn’t know what the capital is or won’t say what the capital of a country is?
QUESTION: What does the U.S. think the capital of Israel is? What do you –
MR. VENTRELL: As I’ve just said, we believe that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status –
QUESTION: I’m not asking you that question. I’m asking you what you think the capital is.
MR. VENTRELL: And my response is that Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations.
QUESTION: She didn’t ask about Jerusalem, though.
MR. VENTRELL: Look, this is something we’ve been through at this podium. Toria has been through it before. We’ve repeated it many times. You know that the position is. It hasn’t changed for decades.
QUESTION: Wait, I know that. And I don’t want to play the verbal game, I’m just very curious if you actually have a position about a capital of that country. And if you don’t, if – I just would like to hear you say you don’t.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, right now, Nicole –
MR. VENTRELL: — the situation is that we have an Embassy in Tel Aviv that represents our interests with the Government of Israel but that the issue of Jerusalem is one that has to be resolved between the two parties. That’s all I can say on this.
Anything else? Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:04 p.m.)
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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