Rubio calls Jerusalem ‘capital,’ praises Obama visit

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Sen. Marco Rubio in meetings with Israeli leaders said Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and that he was pleased President Obama was scheduled to visit.

Rubio (R-Fla.), who delivered the Republican Party response to Obama’s State of the Union speech last week, met Wednesday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

The Associated Press quoted Rubio as telling Peres that Jerusalem is "of course the capital of your country."

It has been the policy of successive U.S. administrations since 1949 not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The quote did not appear in Peres’ release about the meeting, which instead emphasized Rubio’s praise of bipartisan U.S. support for Israel and for the need to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Similarly, the statement from Netanyahu’s office noted Rubio’s approval of Obama’s visit, which is planned for March.

"You live in a challenging neighborhood, but the Israeli-American relationship is one of the most important ones we have, and certainly our commitment to that partnership is bipartisan and it should remain that way," Rubio, who is popular among his party’s conservative wing, told Netanyahu. "And that’s why I’m pleased the president is coming here in March."

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