US Court Hears Passport Case on Jerusalem as Capital

A US court is hearing an appeal by a family that the State Department be told to allow their son's passport to list Jerusalem as part of Israel.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

A United States court is hearing an appeal by an American family living in Jerusalem that the State Department be required to allow their son's passport to list Jerusalem as part of Israel. The American government has refused to do so because it argues that the post-1967 areas of the city are disputed under international law.


Lawyers for Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky told the federal court in Washington, D.C. that the a 2003 law signed by American President George W. Bush states that American citizens born in Jerusalem can demand that "Israel" be stamped next to the city's name. The State Department has maintained that the law is "advisory."


The family's son Menachem was born in Jerusalem's Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital shortly after the law was signed.


The State Department also argues that that the law states that it should not “interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States.”


Attorneys Nat and Aliza Lewin, a father-daughter team, argued that the State Department policy is discriminatory.


“This is not about where the capital is, it’s about our legal rights,” Brooklyn-born Zivotofsky told the New York Jewish Week. He and his wife have lived in Israel since 1999 and he is a neuroscience professor at Bar-Ilan University.


A Court of Appeals previously reversed a District Court decision that dismissed the original complaint and sent the case back to it. However, the same judge, Gladys Kessler, again decided in favor of the government.


Zivotofsky said he is pursuing the case because “it’s philosophically important to us that western Jerusalem be treated as any other part of Israel. Their son Menachem was six-years-old when the State Department refused to stamp his passport with Jerusalem as being part of Israel (Israel News).