Daily Israel Report

Caroline Kennedy: Jerusalem is Israel's Undivided Capital

Caroline Kennedy, who wants to replace Sec. of State-designate Hillary Clinton as New York Senator, backs Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/20/2008, 10:23 PM

Israel News Photo: (courtesy of JFK Library)

Caroline Kennedy, who wants to replace Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton as a New York Senator, backs Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital.

Her spokesman provided the New York Times with written answers to 15 questions dealing with a wide range of issues as she tries to convince New York Gov. David A. Paterson to appoint her to the Senate seat to be vacated by Clinton, who will replace Condoleezza Rice in the Obama government.

"Do you believe that an undivided Jerusalem must be the national capital of the State of Israel?" she was asked.

The response, which spokesman Stefan Friedman said was drafted by Kennedy and staff: "Yes, Caroline believes that an undivided Jerusalem must be the national capital of the State of Israel."

President-elect Barack Obama said during his campaign that he backs an undivided Jerusalem but quickly backtracked after furious protests from the Arab community, including Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

He explained that he actually meant that the city should not be separated by barbed wire, as it was when Jordan occupied the eastern part of the city until 1967.
 
Sen. Clinton, who will retain her post until becoming Secretary of State on January 20, also has backed a united Jerusalem. Her policy paper released in September stated, "Hillary Clinton believes that Israel's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned."

However, her position is foursquare counter to the policies of the State Department that she will head. It does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and refuses to allow the description "Jerusalem, Israel" to appear on passports issued to Americans in the city.
 
State Department officials and Congress have been engaged in an 18-year-old battle since Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which provides for the relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and notes that "each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital."

The Act adds "The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions. Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel. The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths."

In 1990, the Congress unanimously passed a resolution declaring that "Jerusalem must remain an undivided city."
 
The act called for the American embassy to be relocated form Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 1999, but it also added a waiver clause, stating that "the president may suspend the limitations [in the act] for a period of six months if he determines and reports to Congress in advance that such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States."

Every Amercian president since then has used the waiver to delay moving the embassy, which would represent recognition of the city as Israel's undivided capital.
 
State Department officials have either remained diplomatically silent on the issue or have sided with the Palestinian Authority. Philip Wilcox, who was consul general in Jerusalem and now heads a pro-Arab non-profit organization, has stated, "Jerusalem is not only of political, religious, and emotional significance to Palestinians. It is the cultural and economic capital of any future state of Palestine.

"To carve out east Jerusalem from the rest of Palestine would be to deprive of it the geographic area which traditionally has been the heart of the Palestinian economy. It's an absolute deal-breaker, and there will be no peace if there isn't an agreed political division of Jerusalem."