A top Democratic official said on Thursday that a decision to ditch a party policy naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital, later ordered reversed by President Barack Obama, was not deliberate.
According to a report by AFP, the official weighed in on a row which rattled the first two days of the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, as delegates passed their platform -- the list of policies to which the party is committed.
“The omission, despite what you might think, was not deliberate,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“Once it became public,” he added, “the Republicans wanted to gin this up, but as soon as the president heard about it, he knew that wasn't consistent with his personal views and he said put it back, and that's what we did.”
The Democratic Party came under fire from Republicans after a party platform simply stated that “President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The three-paragraph section entitled “The Middle East” detailed the Obama administration’s support for Israel, including boosting security assistance, but said nothing about Jerusalem, G-d, or controlling Hamas - all appearedin the 2008 platform.. The decision to omit was made by the ex-governor of Ohio, Ted Strickland
A campaign official told AFP that after the negative reactions, Obama later personally intervened to have language on Jerusalem, a feature of past party platforms, restored.
The Democrats began the second day of their nominating jamboree by amending the platform, but the motion did not pass smoothly.
When the "nays" appeared to match the “ayes,” convention manager and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to pass the motion again, but couldn't get a voice majority. After a third try, he declared that the motion passed, on his own, which brought about a chorus of boos from the floor.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday that the absence of Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel in the Democratic Party platform was no oversight.
“I see no cause for optimism on their decision to change the platform to reflect Jerusalem's status,” Rivlin said in a radio interview. “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.
Meanwhile, AFP reported, the State Department announced on Thursday that whatever the Democratic Party platform might say, U.S. foreign policy had not changed.
“Long-standing administration policy, both in this administration and in previous administrations across both parties, is that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” spokesman Patrick Ventrell was quoted as having said.
“You know what the position is. It hasn't changed for decades,” he said when pressed by journalists to say which city -- Tel Aviv or Jerusalem -- was considered the Israeli capital.