The absence of Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel in the Democratic Party platform was no oversight, and not the result of a “bureaucratic snafu,” as some Democrats tried to claim in the face of the embarrassing flip-flop on the matter at the party's convention Wednesday night, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said Thursday. The Democrats intended to leave Jerusalem off the agenda, and only changed their minds due to the sharp criticism from Republicans and supporters of Israel in the U.S., he said.
“And I see no cause for optimism on their decision to change the platform to reflect Jerusalem's status,” Rivlin said in a radio interview Thursday. “This was no mistake or slip of someone's mind. I have no doubt that President Obama restored Jerusalem to the platform because of political and electoral pressure, and because of the sharp criticism in Israel and the U.S.,” he said.
The party most definitely suffered a black eye over the brouhaha, media reports in the U.S. said. After sharp criticism earlier in the week over the removal of a section in the platform saying that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, as well as removal of all references to G-d, party officials moved to reinstate both sections. The proposed change would include a line that said that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel," and that “it should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths." G-d was also restored t the platform, with the sentence that Obama, on his second term, will conduct “an administration that will give every hard-working American the opportunity to realize his G-d given potential.”
However, when convention chairman Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, called for a voice vote to approve the insertion of the Jerusalem sentence, he was met by a loud chorus of opposition – with witnesses saying that at least half, if not more, of delegates voicing opposition to inserting the clause about Jerusalem. Voice approvals require a three quarters majority, and after the first vote, Villaraigosa awkwardly called for a second vote, citing “interference” that prevented him from clearly hearing the results. Only after three votes was the resolution declared approved. In response, witnesses said, the crowd turned on Villaraigosa, jeering him as he left the stage.
Rivlin said that under such circumstances it was impossible to chalk up the omission to an accident. “This is not something that can be corrected with the stroke of a pen. It is a clear signal, showing the complete breakdown of the Obama administration's understanding of the importance of Israel to the Middle East strategy of the U.S.”