Jerusalem (illustration)
Jerusalem (illustration)Nicky Kelvin/Flash 90

The US Supreme Court on Monday sided with US President Barack Obama and criticized Congress for "overstepping its bounds" when it tried to press Obama to have Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky's passport list "Jerusalem, Israel" as his place of birth, in a key case regarding the city's status as Israel's capital.

By a 6-3 majority, the Supreme Court struck down a law from 2002 which requires the US State Department to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, reports National Journal.

Both the administrations of Obama and George W. Bush refused to implement the law; the eastern part of the 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish state was liberated in the 1967 Six Day War.

As it stands currently, a child born in Jerusalem has "Jerusalem" listed on their US passport without a country. Official US policy has been not to recognize any sovereignty on either side over Jerusalem ever since the Truman administration.

In the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts objected and opposed the six judges - who incidentally included all three Jewish members of the Supreme Court - who passed the decision.

"Today's decision is a first: never before has this court accepted a president's direct defiance of an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs," said Roberts.

The US government claimed in a brief to the Supreme Court that recognizing that Jerusalem is part of Israel "would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process," clearly indicating a desire to leave open the option to divide Jerusalem and create an Arab capital as the US has indeed pressed for.

Congress had tried to urge the State Department to recognize the Israeli capital by passing a law in 2002, requiring the state to comply with the request of those born in Jerusalem who ask to have Israel listed on their passports. But both Bush and Obama ignored the law, claiming it interfered with foreign policy.

"Jerusalem is eternal"

The case of Menachem Zivotofsky v. Hillary Clinton, now Menachem Zivotofsky v. John Kerry after John Kerry took over from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, has been sent from court to court in the US for years.

When Clinton was still in office the courts determined that the issue with its ramifications regarding the limits of authority vis-a-vis the legislative and executive branches of the government fell under their jurisdiction.

Immigration Absorption Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) reacted to the decision, noting that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state and "will remain that for eternity."

Elkin, whose portfolio includes Jerusalem, called on the US administration to accept "the simple fact that is a fundament of the Jewish heritage, and incidentally of Christian heritage as well - Jerusalem is the heart of the Land of Israel, and the eternal capital of the State of Israel!"

Also responding to the decision was Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), who lives in the southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa.

"United Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the center of the world," asserted Ben-Dahan. "This is how it was and how it will be."

"The Obama administration should express a clear position that Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, especially in a period in which movements that negate the existence of the state are raising their heads," he added.