July 29th, 2012
01:19 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney says Jerusalem is Israel's capital, vows to move embassy

(CNN) – The American embassy in Israel, currently in Tel Aviv, should move to Jerusalem, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said in an interview Sunday.

"A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview set to air Monday. "I think it's long been the policy to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital of Jerusalem."

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The timing of the move, Romney said, would be made in consultation with Israel's government.

"I would follow the same policy we have had in the past, our embassy would be in the capital, and the timing of that is something I would want to work out with the government," Romney said.

No country's embassy to Israel is currently situated in Jerusalem. Nearly every nation with a diplomatic mission to Israel has its embassy in or near Tel Aviv. Some countries have embassies in Mevaseret Zion, a suburb of Jerusalem. The United States currently has a consulate in Jerusalem, which provides visas and other services.

In pledging to move the American embassy in Israel, Romney joins presidential candidates in the past that have made the same promise, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Neither made the move as commander in chief.

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.

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, responded to Romney's labeling of Jerusalem as Israel's capital Sunday.

"East Jerusalem is occupied territory. I don't think occupation and aggression is rewarded even during an election campaign," Erekat said. "Those who seek peace between Palestine and Israel and those who seek to save lives must stand tall for the two state solution and for East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine."

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."

On Thursday, the subject of Israel's capital arose at the White House press briefing.

"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 Thursday 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."

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Filed under: 2012 • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Keith

    another warmonger looking for votes

    July 29, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    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."
    Pretty much everything 2008 candidate Obama said was "poor phrasing". He continues the deception in Obama/ Biden 2012. The biggest Obama campaign deception? That he only plans to raise taxes on billionaires. He has his sights on every working American and every American company for helping satisfy his spending habit. That's just all he knows.

    July 29, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. kamran

    romney is an idiot. he's selling America down the river

    July 29, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. CRAIG

    What is Romney doing? He should be brought home immediately. Moving the embassy, cancelling scheduled meetings, criticizing London's security, holding fundraisers on foreign soil. What next? Put a muzzle on him.

    July 29, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Freeb

    Pandering embarrassment...just stay on foreign territory. It's where you hold your fundraisers and where you keep your money. Stay out of America, Romney, ya ain't wanted.

    July 29, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Darryl

    I hope Romney doesn't cause anymore problem over there than they already have now. His assessments and words will carry alot of wieght if he doesn't watch it. We here in the U.S. do NOT need to start yet another Blood-Shed war. Sending any kind of message in that part of the world negatively towards another country will demonstrate violence on innosent people who did not ask for it.Walking on egg shells is exactly what you have to do when it comes to RELIGION. He better forget the Presidency and stop where he's at.

    July 29, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. RyanC

    Keep acting like you care for votes, just like every other politician does to get into office, and then don't actually do anything but beam in the spotlight and make the position even more meaningless than it has been in the past 30 years.

    July 29, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Marry

    Leave it to Romney to become the “honest broker” for peace! What a juvenile nerd!

    July 29, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. jo

    Mitt 'trying to get his Mojo back with 'TOUGH TALK'.....didn't go over so well in London!! He is the scariest one the Republicans ever 'fielded'...if he is elected...the world should be on 'NOTICE...ALL WAR ALL THE TIME'...probably see Cheney at his side....

    July 29, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Thomas

    Next Romney will want to move the White house to Salt Lake City .

    The timing of the move, Romney said, would be made in consultation with Israel's government.

    July 29, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Grow up already...

    Nitt the "pander bear" strikes again.

    July 29, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. dan

    and Americans will further wonder why the Arab world hates them. taking such a one-sided approach towards a disputed city like Jerusalem will only throw gasoline on the fire. such a shame.

    July 29, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. vic , nashville ,tn

    Reminding me "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska."
    Actually Sarah Palin comment is better than Mitt Romney comment

    July 29, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |

    Wow!If Mitt is trying to alienate the Christian and Islamic population in the Middle East,he just stepped right into a big ol'pile of whoopass.For Centuries Christian,Islamic and Jewish peoples have considered Jerusalem the Holy of Holy cities.This statement is going to infuriate alot of Middle Easterners.

    July 29, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. Pander Bear

    He's putting the "Dip" in diplomacy. For a trip that is supposed to highlight Mitt's foreign policy credentials, this has been an unmitigated disaster. Maybe he can run for President of Israel after he loses in November. Pure pandering to the conservative Jewish vote while simultaneously setting the Mid East peace process back about 45 yeas. Someone shut this clown up.

    July 29, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. SPLAT!~

    Why don't we just assert our authority and move it to the Temple Mount. Let's do our best to make a bad situation worse!~

    July 29, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Dshap

    The status of Jerusalem has only one fair and just solution. The regional arabs who refer to themselves, only since 1964, as "palestinians", only want Jerusalem as their capital because it takes something from the Jews. The facts speak clearly. From the 1948 invasion thru it's liberation from Jordan in 1967, the Arabs made no mention of Jerusalem being their capital. The city was kept in disrepair, and the arabs prayed with their backs turned and their butts pointing to Jerusalem.
    Jerusalem is today, and will remain the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, The Nation State of The Jewish People. These regional Arabs have done and continue to do all they can to hijack, not only the lands of Israel, but also Jewish history. Shockingly, there are those in the world who buy into their propaganda...

    July 29, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. michaelfrivero

    UN General Assembly Resolution 2253 (ES-V): Condemns Israel's measures to change the status of Jerusalem as invalid.

    UN General Assembly Resolution 2254: "Deplores" Israel's failure to abide by UN General Assembly Resolution 2253

    Security Council Resolution 250: (April 27) " ... 'calls' on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem".

    Security Council Resolution 251: (May 2) " ... 'deeply deplores' Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250".

    Security Council Resolution 252: (May 21) " ... 'declares invalid' Israel's acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital".

    Security Council Resolution 267: (July 3) " ... 'censures' Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem".

    Security Council Resolution 271: (September 15) " ... 'condemns' Israel's failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem".

    Security Council Resolution 298: (September 25, 1971) " ... 'deplores' Israel's changing of the status of Jerusalem".

    Security Council Resolution 476: " ... 'reiterates' that Israel's claim to Jerusalem are 'null and void'".

    Security Council Resolution 478 (20 August 1980): 'censures (Israel) in the strongest terms' for its claim to Jerusalem in its 'Basic Law'.

    July 29, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Myviewis

    Of cours it is, King David more than 3000 years ago made Jerusalem the Capital of Israel.

    July 29, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. Paranoid

    Look at all you paranoid fools yapping like timid little chihauhau's over Mitt's statements.

    July 29, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. I've always voted

    Here he goes...spending money already.

    July 29, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Hey

    This land is a promise from God to his people. Nuff said!

    July 29, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. Evan

    OK I know a couple of Pakistani americans muslim families: doctors, engineers and business owners. They tend to vote Republican but after this I can;t imagine them doing so. This is basically a slap in the face of any Muslim, and the worse is that Romney knows it.

    July 29, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. enuff

    What happened to Romney wasn't going to discuss U.S. policy????? HE ISN'T THE PRESIDENT!!! He needs to shut up before he puts more Americans in harms way!

    July 29, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Jules

    well, Mitt, Jerusalem is a disputed capital, that's why the embassy is in Tel Aviv.

    July 29, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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