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Court throws out Jerusalem case

A U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem still cannot get Israel listed in his passport as his country of birth.

A U.S. federal court in Washington said it had no jurisdiction over whether a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem may have “Israel” listed in his passport as his country of birth.

In throwing out a lawsuit brought by Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky on behalf of their son, Menachem, Judge Gladys Kessler said that resolving the “claim on the merits would necessarily require the court to decide the political status of Jerusalem. The case law makes clear that the Constitution commits that decision to the executive branch.”

The Orthodox Union said it was “disappointed” in the Sept. 19 ruling, which was first reported in the New York Sun.

“The judge was not asked to determine the status of Jerusalem, only to require the State Department to comply with the law, which is consistent with American Policy as enacted by Congress,” the Orthodox Union said in a statement. The Zionist Organization of America also issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the decision.

The case was brought under a 2002 law that allows Americans born in Jerusalem to list the city as in “Israel.” President Bush signed the law, but reserved the right to ignore it. Kessler threw out the case in 2004, and an appeals court returned it to her. Zivotofsky’s lawyers vowed another appeal.

Presidents traditionally have resisted efforts to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli, saying that such recognition would pre-empt Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

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