The Obama adminsitration has been taking flak over its views toward Jerusalem for months now. First the White House press secretary refused to answer a question as to whether the administration considered Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. Then the White House deputy press secretary said that Mitt Romney’s characterization of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel contradicted the administration’s (and previous administrations’) policy.
And, of course, this week there has been a tempest over the omission (and now reinsertion) of the Democratic platform’s traditional affirmation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (in every platform since 1972, with the exception of 1988).
But now that the Jerusalem language has been restored to the platform top Dems are using the opportunity to affirm that President Obama himself believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
In introducing the platform addition on Jerusalem today, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the chair of the Democratic convention’s platform committee, said: "President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and our party’s platform should as well."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Demcoratic National Committee, issued a statement explaining that the platform was "amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."
The use of the phrase "personal views" to describe Obama’s embrace of the notion that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital is noteworthy. It suggests that this position is not U.S. policy (which it hasn’t been under multiple administrations).
Obama as a candidate in 2008 referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. When the future president was pressed on the significance of his statements about Jerusalem, he explained: "The fact is that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And so I was simply saying a fact."
Meanwhile, reporters are being told by some unnamed Democratic source(s) that: "The President personally intervened to strengthen the language."
The Romney campaign, for its part, is demanding that President Obama "state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital."
Here’s the statement from Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul:
Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Although today’s voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
Here’s the full statement from Wasserman Schultz:
The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.
It has been the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades that Jerusalem is a final status issue to be negotiated directly between the two parties, as part of discussions to achieve a two-state solution that secures the Jewish state and homeland. Our Party platform already expresses strong support for the peace process and makes clear the steps that any Palestinian partner must take to be a part of such a process — recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to existing agreements.