White House: Romney’s Jerusalem remark contradicts U.S. policy


Is Jerusalem Israel’s capital? First, the White House press secretary wouldn’t say. Then, Mitt Romney said it is. Now the White House is saying that Romney’s simple statement contradicts U.S. policy.

Diplomatically, this is a genuinely delicate issue for the White House. Politically, it’s hard to see how there is much to be gained by (even gently) taking issue with Romney’s statement that Israel’s capital is Israel’s capital.

Yet that’s exactly what Josh Earnest did in response to a reporter’s question regarding Romney’s reference to Jerusalem as “the capital of Israel.”

See at 2:20 in this video:

Here’s what Earnest said:


Well, our view is that that’s a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final-status negotiations between the parties. I’d remind you that that’s the position that’s been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. So if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he’s also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

U.S. policy on Jerusalem is a complicated issue. While Congress has recognized in U.S. law Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital and insisted that the U.S. move its embassy there, successive administrations have declined to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv.

But Romney’s assertion that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital — even if it contradicts the Obama administration’s position — is identical to the positions taken by candidate Obama in 2008, candidate Bush in 2000 and candidate Clinton in 1992.

The Palestinians have objected to Romney’s statement. In addition, China’s official news agency criticized his remark. 

Recommended from JTA