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. gordyb

    We support Israel but it is not the 51st state. They do not dictate US foreign policy. I have not read of any official remarks of their unhappiness with current US policy.SOmetimes you have to be firm even with allies. The GOP has pandered to the right wing of their country in an attempt to make the president look bad. This only makes the US look bad. Israel knows we will be there if needed. We don't need to involve them in our presidential elections period.

    September 4, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. WILLARD MILTON ROMNEY IS A COWARD & TAX EVADER

    I'm not a fan of Israel and it should not be presented on any American politcial platform. Ever ask yourself why the Star of David is over the Eagle on the back of the $1 dollar bill. Ever turn the pyramid upside down own itself and notice the Star of David and at each point it spells M-A-S-O-N. Ever ask yourself the meaning of "Starbucks" and why the woman on the bottle is holding the start above her head just like the eagle on the dollar?

    September 4, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. ObjectiveGuy

    I'm not sure how any self-respecting American Jew could even consider voting for Obama. He has done nothing but thrown Israel under the bus every chance he gets, and continues to sell us all out to his Muslim bretheren. Think it's a coincidence that we are paying the highest price in the history of the world for gasoline? You Dems used to always claim that GWB and Cheney were in bed with big oil companies, and that's why our gas prices were so high. We would now kill for prices that low, and Obama says "Get used to it.". It's his way of transferring wealth to the Middle East, not including Israel, of course.

    September 4, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. w l jones

    You can say a lot by not saying nothing. Bless.

    September 4, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. David

    No offense to anybody, but I couldn't care less about Israel. I wish them all the best, but I'd cut them loose in a heartbeat... they are boig boys... let them fend for themselves.

    September 4, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. ObjectiveGuy

    To the poster who stated he was afraid of Romney's Mormon religion: I've got news for you; The most powerful democrat in Congress, Harry Reid, is also a Mormon. Why weren't you scared of his religion??? What a hypocrite.

    September 4, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Grand Oil Party 2012

    American dog, meet Israeli tail. Tail wags dog. Israel says jump, GOP says how high. Hi ho, hi ho, if off to war with Iran we go. Oil at $10 a barrel, no problem.

    September 4, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. snowboarder

    why would this country have any say in the capital of another country?

    September 4, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. korkea aika

    Jerusalem is not jewish, or gentile or muslim or christian. Jerusalem belongs to the world as a heritage, and should be put under a neutral administration so that the 'dominant' sect cannot persecute the others. This is Israel's ' burden ' given that their own law states "there will be one law for yourselves and the stranger living within your gates". So if Israel has not yet grown to the stature where as a nation it can live up to this high standard of the Torah, then the rest of the world has to intervene to ensure that Jerusalem, the holy land of 3 great religions, is not destroyed by ignorance. This is where we are in 2012 CE

    September 4, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Big Al

    Let the United States attack Iran. That way it's their blood and money. Netanyahoo will make sure Romney does the job. I hope taxes on all Americans go up so it covers the war.

    September 4, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Stan Marsh

    Who cares about Israel? If you do,then head over there and help them. The rest of us couldn't care any less.

    September 4, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. POD

    Isn't Tel Aviv the capital od Israel?

    September 4, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. WilHam

    I'm so tired of hearing Israel's name in our politics.
    Bad enough that nut&yahoo wants to impact our election to benefit romney.

    September 4, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. JustWho

    Why does Jerusalem make a difference? The repub war mongers have pandered to them long enough.

    September 4, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. AgrippaMT

    The racist state of Israel has no right to declare Jerusalem as its capital. That can only be mutually agreed during final status negotiations between the jews and Palestinians.

    September 4, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Mike

    I support Israel in as much as I support any independent nation in determining their own destiny – but I'm sick of this "51st state" treatment of Israel. No foreign nation should be named in any political platform of any political Party in America. Our government serves the United States and no one else – or at least that's how it should be. And I'm a Republican.

    September 4, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. mighty7

    Good. About time. Why on earth does 2% of the US population command control of US politics for the other 98%? It is absurb...

    On a side note: Israel has UNVERSAL HEALTH CARE. COMPULSORY. FOR EVERYONE. FINANCED BY THE GOVERMENT. So those so-called Christians who have promised to move to Isreal if Obama wins.....better reconsider somewhere else to do. Like Somalia...for example.

    September 4, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Kingofthenet

    I can't wait for President Obama's second term, and what he say's to Bibi...
    Bibi: We have this saying 'Never Again'
    President Obama: I am going to make it my personal Mantra.
    Bibi: Your idea of it isn't the same as mine, is it?
    President Obama: Nope

    September 4, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Paul

    oh here we go again. Democrats do not include this and Republicans will cry wolf while they completely forgot to mention the American troops

    September 4, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Army Wife

    The previous posts show how little people know. Very sad.

    September 4, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. shea

    Saying Israel has the right to coose Jerusalem as it's capital is like saying Canada has the right to choose Washington DC as it's capital. And I agree with gordyb: this should not be a major platform issue.

    September 4, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Army Wife

    The previous posts show how little people know. Very sad. Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head.

    September 4, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Ntrain2k

    The true colors are beginning to become obvious to those who have chosen to be blind.

    September 4, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Spendlove

    It's unfortunate that Mitt Romney is completely full of it, and so is the entire republican party.

    September 4, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. CutTax

    Obama as regular muslim is supporting destroing of the jewish state and hitler, obviously

    September 4, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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