Dem platform leaves out 2008 stance on Jerusalem
September 4th, 2012
02:13 PM ET
2 years ago

Dem platform leaves out 2008 stance on Jerusalem

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) – The Democrats' official platform, released late Monday, omits a clause from the party's 2008 document proclaiming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a subject of intense diplomatic scrutiny that Obama's Republican challenger Mitt Romney has put at the center of his position on the Jewish state.

In 2008, Democrats wrote in their platform, "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."

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The 2012 platform contains no reference to Jerusalem, and maintains support for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestinians.

But the platform does read, "The President's consistent support for Israel's right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel's security."

The 2012 platform also omits a reference to Israel as America's "strongest ally in the region," language present in the platform four years ago.

A Democratic National Committee spokesman said that Obama's stance on Jerusalem was consistent with previous presidents.

"The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. administrations of both parties have done since 1967," the spokesman wrote. "As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – which we also said in the 2008 platform. We will continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue as part of a two state solution that secures the future of Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people."

Later, the DNC added to their response by calling the attention to the issue "just another attempt by the Romney campaign to turn our support for Israel – which has always been bipartisan – into a partisan wedge issue by playing politics. This is both cynical and counter-productive to Israel’s security.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council president released a statement Tuesday saying, "Jewish Democrats know full well that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.

"We - like President George W. Bush before and leaders of both parties for decades - also know that the final status of Jerusalem will have to be formally decided by the parties. This should come as a surprise to nobody," NJDC president David A. Harris wrote. "This Administration has the most pro-Israel record of any on record; the facts speak for themselves. "

The Republicans' platform, released ahead of their convention last week, reads "We support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states – Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine – living in peace and security." The platform does not make the statement that Jerusalem is currently the capital of Israel.

Romney, in a statement Tuesday, wrote it was "unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama's shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."

"Four years of President Obama's repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality," the Republican nominee continued. "As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally."

In July, Romney said firmly that Jerusalem was Israel's capital in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, saying "A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital."

American policy has long been intentionally vague on the status of Jerusalem. A U.S. law passed in 1995 designates Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and stipulates the American embassy should move to the city from Tel Aviv. The past three presidents, however, have signed waivers suspending the law, citing security and diplomatic concerns.

Israelis consider Jerusalem the capital of their country, but Palestinians also claim rights to the city as the capital of a future independent state. The status of the city is designated for final negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama waded into the issue of Jerusalem's status, pledging before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

He later walked back the comment on CNN, telling Fareed Zakaria the remark was a result of "poor phrasing."

"The point we were simply making was, is that we don't want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the '67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent," Obama said. "I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final status issues."

The subject of Israel's capital arose at the White House press briefing earlier this summer.

"What city does this administration consider to be the capital of Israel – Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?" a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

"I haven't had that question in a while. Our position has not changed," Carney answered.

Pressed further for the White House's position on Israel, Carney responded "you know our position" before moving on to other questions.

In a transcript of the briefing emailed later that afternoon, the White House included a paragraph explaining their position.

"The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," the statement read. "We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians."

CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Democratic National Convention • Israel
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    so what?? It is NOT the capital...Tel Aviv is. The Democrats got it right and removed that false (and pandering) statement. I fully expect the American Taliban to run with this is as "Obama hates Israel" when it's far from the truth. And it won't make any difference in the american jewish vote so don't try to make it out to be

    September 4, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Bet that was left in from Joe Lieberman! While Israel wants to claim Jerusalem as their capital, pretty much every other country in the world (at least among those that actually recognize Israel) refuses to acknowledge that claim, and are keeping their embassies and consulates in Tel Aviv.

    September 4, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. myviewis

    Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, definitely not Tel Aviv.

    As per Obama in 2008 ""Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

    In typical Lawyer Obama way who always claims he either said something the wrong way or we understood him wrongly... "He later walked back the comment on CNN, telling Fareed Zakaria the remark was a result of "poor phrasing.".

    I must say Obama is a fine lawyer that always works it out so that we cannot hold him to his words.

    September 4, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. d

    Obama has been negative towards Israel since he has been president,. it will make a difference, he lost my vote. How is it our right to decide the capital or importance of a city in another country. New York City isn't the capital of new york, so should we give that away?

    September 4, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. demwit

    "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."
    CNN covers for Obama "poor phrasing." while attacking Ryan on a 20 yr old marathon time.

    Nice!!

    September 4, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. v_mag

    A lot of folks like me would like to get a lot tougher than that with Israel, a state that is at the root of Middle East conflict. Why do we give them exalted status over their neighbors? Why do we look the other way when they persecute Palestinians, build nuclear weapons and spy on the U.S.? Why do we send them billions in aid when we know they use bribery and extortion against members of our government through AIPAC? America should hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people instead of giving them special privileges and doing their bidding.

    September 4, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    The Republicans' platform, released ahead of their convention last week, reads "We support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders; and we envision two democratic states – Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine – living in peace and security." The platform does not make the statement that Jerusalem is currently the capital of Israel.

    Romney, in a statement Tuesday, wrote it was "unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama's shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."

    September 4, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Jon

    The thought that Obama would refuse to allow the Israelis the same rights we have is unbelievable ... just think if the world said that we needed to have Cheyenne Wyoming as our nation’s capital? Would the liberals of this country, agree? I hope not, if they would, we are worse off than I thought.

    September 4, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. ghostriter

    D, you do realize that by stating that Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is the capital and neither has been internationally accepted, that both sides are doing what you said we shouldn't have the right to do?

    And you do realize that Israel has said that there has never been a president who was a better friend to Israel than Obama......right?

    September 4, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Jon

    I hope this means Obama will lose more jewish votes ... he has lost mine.

    September 4, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. ghostriter

    demwit, can you tell us what Obama meant and what was walked back? If so, you should be able to tell us the difference between telling everyone that you ran a marathon way faster than you actually did.

    Not sure if you know anything about marathons, but 3 hours is quite impressive. Enough so that it is like claiming a bowling score of 250 when you may bowl a 200. In other words, it's impressive enough that one should remember not running a time that good if you never have.

    September 4, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    When did we become the decider on another nation's capital? Tel Aviv is the capital and that should be the end of it. Some of the most populous cities in the U.S. are not the capital of the state(NYC, Los Angeles, Dallas).

    September 4, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. tDonkey Party

    Myviewis – Thanks again for displaying your total ignorance on a daily basis. Want to take a guess at which other presidential candidate holds a law degree? Silly fool. All you so is argue from a position of hatred, racism, and intolerance. Like every right-winger, you're just a self-loathing, miserable, small-minded sociopath.

    September 4, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. LAXMIA

    Romney wants Americans to bend over to Israel. Obama doesn't.

    September 4, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Laverne

    The republican platform does not state that Jerusalem is the capital, it is just lip service to try and demean the president's stance. The republicans are full of it and at least Dems are basing their platform on facts, ummm like the fact Tel Aviv is the real capital of Israel. The secretary of Defense for Israel recently said that the Obama administration has done more as far as their security than any other adminstration he could remember.

    September 4, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. tDonkey Party

    If you base your voting on US policies toward another country (including Israel, with one of the most oppressive governments in the world), then perhaps you should move to that country. Otherwise, never call or consider yourself a patriot of the USA.

    September 4, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. WiredweirdinSF

    One of the American Taliban, a phrase some dope addicted welfare fraud from NY has decided demean and degrade me with is quite confused by Hussein Obama's rhetoric and actions regarding Israel. Does he just hate Netanyahu and that is why he treated him so shabbily? Then again he treated Queen Elizabeth shabilly also, he may be just socially inept, as well as economically inept and incompetent, but he is definitely corrupt all over.

    September 4, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. PJ

    Jerusalem has to be negotiated. If the Palestinians don't have anything to negotiate they will never accept a treaty. It is a cultural thing that is why Arafat refused Clinton's plan which was the best they could ever have. He didn't haggle enough. Be it haggling over the price of a $10.00 item in a store or the borders – each is important to the idiots on the West Bank.

    September 4, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  19. Obama's America 2016

    This administration has already stated it will NOT help Israel against Iran.

    So much for friendship.

    September 4, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. glyder

    i wonder how many of the muslim brotherhood will be at the convention.

    September 4, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Ken from FL

    This platform change says it all: Israel? Who or what is Israel? We don't need no stinking Israel. Hello, supporters of Israel, are you hearing this????

    September 4, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Banstyx5

    Couple of questions.
    1 Why do I care what the capital of Israel is!
    2 Why do both parties feel the need to mention foreign countries in there party platform. Seriously? They should be addressing things that are critical to us.
    3 Does it seem that both Mitt and Obama are out of touch with America? Maybe we should but them on the same ticket.

    September 4, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Evian Bidet

    Why is Israel on any US party platform?

    September 4, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Obama's America 2016

    glyder
    i wonder how many of the muslim brotherhood will be at the convention.

    They're in the background with Sorass.

    September 4, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. Nick San Diego

    All of you that have Israel tied to our hips, should pay head to our forefathers. NO PERMANENT ALLIANCES. They are and always have been an albatross around our necks.
    They have the bomb and yet they lean on us.for money,weapons and blood.
    You sickos that think they're your friends, then answer me this. Pollard and USS Liberty and if you don;t know those simple 2 things then shut up.You;re being used and manipulated.

    September 4, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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