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June 30, 2015

Where's the Coverage? U.S. Position on Jerusalem More Hard-Line than PLO


On June 8, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the case of a boy, an American citizen born in Jerusalem in 2002, whose parents wanted to list “Jerusalem, Israel� as the birthplace on his passport, as was their right under a law passed by Congress. The State Department, first under the Bush administration and currently under the Obama administration, would not allow it, disregarding this law. According to the majority opinion, the Constitution gives the president – or the administration, as opposed to Congress – the exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns. In plain English, Jerusalem doesn’t have to be part of Israel if the president doesn’t want it to be.

This got quite a bit of attention by the media. But, the press did not delve too deeply into this issue. (No surprise there.) When it comes to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the United States is even more extreme than the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

After the War of Independence, Israel held part of Jerusalem, referred to by the media as “West Jerusalem,� and established it as the capital in 1949. Part of Jerusalem was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948-1967, frequently called “East Jerusalem.�

While theoretically the PLO recognizes that Palestinian Arabs have no claim on “West Jerusalem,� publicly claiming to seek Israel's withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines or "the 1967 borders," the American government refuses to.

In an opinion piece in The New York Jewish Week, law professor Avi Bell writes:

The State Department, backed by both Republican and Democrat-controlled White Houses, has insisted that no part of Jerusalem be recognized in any way as part of Israel... None of it.

The Obama administration has explained that refusing to recognize Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem is necessary to avoid interference with the “peace process.� Jerusalem, says the White House, must be dealt with solely in negotiations between the parties.

But this justification falls apart upon the slightest examination.

The current PLO territorial demands, repeated often and in every forum imaginable, are for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and “East Jerusalem.� No senior PLO figure has demanded in recent years that Israel also withdraw from “West Jerusalem.� In demanding that Israel acquire PLO approval for its sovereignty over “West Jerusalem,� the White House is taking a more hardline anti-Israel position than even the PLO.


Historically, the anti-Israel position of the U.S. on Jerusalem developed without any connection to the Israel-PLO peace negotiations that began in 1993. The U.S. never recognized Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, even in 1948, when Israel’s War of Independence left parts of Jerusalem in Israeli hands. When Israel declared Jerusalem (“West Jerusalem�) its capital in 1949, the U.S. refused to recognize it, even though international law makes states the sole determinants of their own capital.

In 1949, there was no “peace process� between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Not in 1949, 1959, 1969, 1979, or 1989. So what did the “peace process� have to do with Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for all those years? Why has the American government taken such an anti-Israel position? And… where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at June 30, 2015 09:59 AM



Posted by: Robert Feldman at July 2, 2015 03:56 PM

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