Appeals court tosses Jerusalem passport case

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A lawsuit by a Jerusalem-born U.S. citizen who wants "Israel" listed on his passport as his birth country was dismissed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., upheld a lower court decision that the judiciary did not have jurisdiction in the case because the Constitution exclusively grants the power to set foreign policy and recognize foreign governments to the executive branch.

The family of Menachem Zivotofsky had brought suit against the U.S. government under a 2002 law that allows Americans born in Jerusalem to list the city as in "Israel." President George W. Bush signed the law, but stated that it was "advisory" because it interfered with the president’s right to conduct foreign policy.

U.S. passports do not list a country for those born in Jerusalem because of fears that recognizing the city as Israeli would pre-judge Israeli-Palestinian peace negotations.

Zivotofsky attorney Nathan Lewin called the decision "a disappointing slap in the face of American citizens who are born in Jerusalem and identify themselves proudly and correctly as having been born in Israel.

Lewin added that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was under consideration, but "in the meantime, we call on the executive branch, and particularly President Obama, to reconsider and to permit American citizens born in West Jerusalem, at least, to designate their birthplaces as ‘Israel.’ "

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