Dem platform leaves out 2008 stance on Jerusalem
September 4th, 2012
02:13 PM ET
8 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. valwayne

    Obama's Anti-Israel policies have now filtered down are part of the platform for the entire Democrat party. Shame! Obama is on a path to totally betray the Jewish State. Any American that votes for Obama is voting for the eventual destruction of Israel. "There are none so blind as those that will not see"!

    September 4, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Norm

    Anyone else sick of hearing about Israel?

    September 4, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Grand Oil Party 2012

    War with Iran. Gas at $10 a gallon. Big Oil gets richer. Fox News blames Obama.
    Adelson / Koch Brothers / Rmoney 2012!!!

    September 4, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. MikeM

    The Dems finally getting rid of pro-Israel rhetoric is about the only reason I would vote for them. For too long US administrations of both parties, as well as most members of Congress, have supported a nation that were it not for US support would not exist.
    It's high time to do with Israel what we did with South Africa.

    September 4, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. ricardo1968

    A city with a shared history should be shared. It is immoral to pretend that 1500 years of Arab history in Jerusalem never happened.

    September 4, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Hahahaha!

    ....and thats why the Dems will lose the Jewish vote in FL and hence the entire state.

    September 4, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Aristocles

    All this is doing is digging Democrats deeper into a hole.

    September 4, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Chris R

    i'm all for the right of israel to exist and enjoy peace and prosperity. i'm just tired of israel being such a huge foreign policy issue – one that has caused us a huge number of problems over the past few decades. i believe we should maintain our support but we need to stop being practically subservient to israel. either they get serious about the peace process or we get serious about backing away from our overwhelming support.

    September 4, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Netmonger

    How about everyone pick a new 'favor spot' for their religion somewhere else? For crying out loud – the world is a big place and all 3 have to pick the same damn spot?! 🙂

    September 4, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. southernsugar

    Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. Netanyahu and his cohort wanted Jerusalem to be the capital, to take more Palestinian land. They are disgraceful. The Holy Sites should belong to the world and all religions, not Israel.

    September 4, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. THE POPE

    Old Jerusalem was built by Christians and Muslims and the Jews just came and claimed for themselves on false Historical facts .

    September 4, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. LB Massachusetts

    The left wing liberal crazies are out for the full moon - how nice. Obama is a failure by any objective measure – a comolete and utter failure. The Dems controlled the House and Senate for the last 2 years of the Bush Prsidency and the first two years of Obama Presidency and he did NOTHING to create jobs. Obama said it was unpatriotic to raise the debt limit and for Bush to do so was a disgrace and showed no fiscal discipline or courage Obama then voted against raising the debt limit for Bush. Then, on taking office Obama increased our debt by more than ALL prior presidents. Obama is really a fraud and one cannot believe anything he says now – he is just clinging onto the hope that his teleprompter speeches and empty promises will get him reelected. If this country reelects Obama, we will surely slide into another recession and unemployment will stay above 8% and likely hit 10% and our debt will hit $20 trillion. Obama is out of ideas; out of time; and should be out of a job. Do not listen to his BS any longer folks – they are empty promises from a desparate man

    September 4, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. southernsugar

    Why are we supporting Israel? I've never understood that. Why should we give them all of that money? How do they contribute to our country?

    September 4, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. LB Massachusetts

    Obama has never been a fan of Israel. Never will be. As for latinos, he has strung them along for 3+ years – prmisedimmigration reform, and then ignored them - as for blacks, i wonder how young black teens like their 25% unemployent rate. It seems 99% of blacks have totally forgotten the words of Martin Luther King when he urged folks to judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his mind - blacks are still voting race - and if Barack gets reelected the blacks and latinos will be th eones that suffer

    September 4, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Al

    The U.S. will always be a storng ally of Israel. Case closed. Go find out why Paul Ryan lied about running a marathon in less than 3 hours. That should be more of a concern for Jews who think Obama has thrown Israel under a bus.

    September 4, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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