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

    when the Israelis move it to Jerusalem, THEN it will be the capital. Until then it's Tel Aviv. All the panderers and Israel-first posters here are clueless

    September 4, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Banstyx5

    Evian Bidet, in response to your question.

    MONEY!
    Didn't you know the good old USA is up for sale Democrats and Republicans just can't agree on who to see it to, and for how much...

    September 4, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Cheetahe

    With all respect to Israel and its supporters in the USA, Obama is doing what the majority of the citizens of this country think about the state of Israel. Yes we support the existence of the state of Israel, but we are not going to dovetail Israel on every decision they make. I hope that Obama does not get us dragged into any war with Iran because of Israel and take care of our national interests in the ME without getting involved in any military adventures.
    Now the citizens of this country have a clear choice between Romney and his kin who want to get us into wars in the Middle East and Obama who wants us out of any military confrontation over there.
    Is Romney ready to sacrifice his large family on any war with Iran?

    September 4, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  4. Geff

    Do you remember the USS Liberty, and the deaths of 34 American sailors? If not here's a cut and paste clue...Fifteen years after the attack, an Israeli pilot approached Liberty survivors and then held extensive interviews with former Congressman Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey about his role. According to this senior Israeli lead pilot, he recognized the Liberty as American immediately, so informed his headquarters, and was told to ignore the American flag and continue his attack. He refused to do so and returned to base, where he was arrested."

    This is the best we can do for allies in the middle east? The Israelis have no fondness for Americans, as is demonstrated by the this story of treachery, lies and deceit carried out against an American sailors by the Israeli Air force and Navy.

    September 4, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. WillB

    Romney should charter a boat and immediately fill it with everyone who objects to this, and sail away. No one will miss them here.

    September 4, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. DJones

    Anyone who attempts to say that Tel Aviv is the capitol of Israel is ignorant in the extreme. Tel Aviv has never been at anytime in Israel their capitol, EVER... That is like saying that Kansas City is the capitol of the United Sates of America because some yahoo in some other country wants it to be so. Silly.

    September 4, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. rs1201

    Once again the democrats and their leader, Barack Obama, are busy distancing America from one of its strongest ally in the ME...Israel. Whether they like it or not...Jerusalem has always been Israel's capital and will remain that for eternity. American Jewish voter will remember these actions by the democrats and obama once they're in the voting booth deciding who to vote for....

    ROMNEY/RYAN 2012 ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE

    September 4, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. Dave

    Israel can choose whatever city they want to be their Capital. Who cares whether it is mentioned in either party's platform.

    September 4, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. John

    It is more important to fight the phony "War on Women" then to stand up for our ally Israel. How sad is that?

    September 4, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. mike

    It is clear that Obama's goal is a reduced US foot print internationally and an isolated Israel. This is only one example and is consistent with every move Obama has taken, since becoming president. When Obama talks about the 1% giving to the 99% it is not within the US. It is from a global perspective. Since Obama has taken office we have lost 40% of the wealth within our country. This is only the begining.

    September 4, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Dave

    I'm more scared of Romney's Morman belief than I am of what city is the capital of Israel.

    September 4, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. DC Observer

    Becasue of his Muslim heritage, Barack Hussein Obama has never been a friend of Israel.

    September 4, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. David M

    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."

    So, why change your mind 4 years later on the capital of Israel? Besides, it does not matter what the rest of the world thinks. Israel is a sovereign state and like it or not, they get to decide where the capital is. It's not up to the Democrats or Republicans, or anyone other country, to decide that. Who cares what town the call their capital???

    September 4, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. myviewis

    Al-NY,NY

    when the Israelis move it to Jerusalem, THEN it will be the capital. Until then it's Tel Aviv. All the panderers and Israel-first posters here are clueless
    --------------------–

    Israel lists Jerusalem as its Capital not Tel Aviv.

    September 4, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. DC

    Obama has been anti-Israel from the beginning. This is no different. Elsewhere, it has been reported today that the US has indicated no action against Iran – basically Israel is on its own there.
    How much this factors into the people's decision making on Presidential choice is up to them to decide.

    September 4, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. TownC

    It was left out because telling the truth would not help them with Jewish voters. Democrats have taken an even handed position when it comes to Israel. The problem is that Israel is one of our closest allies while the other nations in the area have been traditionally either enemies or of at least secondary importance. We need transparency and honesty from the Democrats on this important issue.

    September 4, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. allens

    they are friends, but are interested in their own wellbeing not ours. this government is not about religion and should not make decisions based on israel being the holyland. we are secular and as much as the repubs would like to change that, we should not.

    September 4, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. ᾨ CHE ᾨ

    Facts Undisputed: CNN is CONTROLLED by the Israeli Gov't.

    Americans needs JOBS and NOT some jewish state nonsense.

    Our tax $'s have built the jewish state of Isael and we as people are SICK of these.

    September 4, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. Patrick

    We should stop bending over backward for genocidal countries. Especially Isreal.

    September 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Kevin W

    I am not surprised by the reich wing response as clearly they think another country has the right to run our foreign policy. Republicans, doing whatever it takes to destroy America!

    September 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. Who Cares About Israel?

    Why should Israel be singled out on any political party's platform? I thought Israel was a sovereign state (or country, depending on who you talk to). The people who are "Friends of Israel" might want to think of their allegiance, is it the US or Israel? These people are the same people who will send our tax dollars over to a sovereign state and will complain about the US government spending money on its citizens.

    September 4, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. v_mag

    I'm sick of sending American troops to fight wars to defend Israel. The Repugnants are willing to let GM and other American companies die, and then the turn around and vote to spend billions for Bush's wars to protect Israel. Why don't the Repugnants just declare that their loyalty lies with Israel and not the U.S.? Israel is not really even an ally, as it spies on us and spends tons of money to buy the support of American politicians. Let them sink or swim on their own, just like you treat the American people.

    September 4, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Dan

    Good! Israel does not equal America.

    September 4, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. midwesternj

    How is it that people get so bent out of shape over a country that has really never helped the U.S. much at all, has gotten us into trouble multiple times, stole nuclear secrets from us. We give them over 3 BILLION in aid a year, and people never want to cut it, but if you want to take 700 million dollars out of food subsidies for the poor people think it's a great way to save money. Let Israel deal with their own problems, it's not our job to fight their battles for them.

    September 4, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  25. Anthony Thompson

    Domestic political considerations should NOT influence foreign policy (as it presently does toward Cuba and Israel). it's time for the pandering to stop and for the US to be an objective and fair broker of peace in the Middle East.

    September 4, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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