Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday criticized the Democrats over a platform which fails to mention that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
“It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” Romney said in a statement quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
He added, “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. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.”
During a visit to Israel in July, Romney stated that it was "a moving experience to be in Jerusalem -- the capital of Israel," eliciting extended and excited applause from the audience.
The Republican Party’s platform for 2012 says, “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 Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Democratic Party platform doesn’t state that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, a change from prior years.
“President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” says the 70-page platform in a section titled “The Middle East.”
The three-paragraph section details the Obama administration’s support for Israel, including boosting security assistance, noted the report, but says nothing about Jerusalem.
In contrast, in 2008 the Democratic Party’s platform said, “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.”
In July, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney evaded a question at a press briefing regarding which city the U.S. considers to be the capital of Israel.
Carney refused to disclose whether the U.S. officially believes Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to be the capital of Israel.
Persistently questioned for about a minute, an uncomfortable Carney only responded that, “I have not had that question in a while. Our position hasn’t changed.”
Several months before this incident, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
An official State Department communication had labeled Jerusalem and Israel as separate entities and later altered to read that “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.”
When a reporter asked Nuland about this, she responded, “Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed. The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for -- our -- Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.”
During his election campaign, Obama reassured Jewish constituents that Jerusalem will remain the “undivided” capital of Israel. His stance since then has significantly changed.
“Let me be clear, Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable,” Obama said at the time. “The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Obama soon retracted his remarks, saying that the word undivided “was poorly chosen.”
A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, Melanie Roussell, told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the Obama administration’s policy toward Jerusalem mirrors that of previous administrations.
“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,” she said.