David Friedman hands over first 'Jerusalem, Israel' passport
David Friedman hands over first 'Jerusalem, Israel' passportJeries Mansour, US Embassy Jerusalem

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman presented the first-ever US passport to list Jerusalem as part of Israel, giving the new travel document to Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky at a ceremony at the US Embassy in Jerusalem Friday.

Zivotofsky, an 18-year-old Jerusalem-born US citizen, was the center of a nearly 18-year legal battle to secure implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Act, which instructed the US government to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

While the legal battle culminated in an unsuccessful appeal to the US Supreme Court, which ruled in the 2012 case Zivotofsky v. Clinton in favor of the State Department, and again in 2015 in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Trump administration moved to drop the policy of refusing to list Jerusalem as an Israeli city, allowing recipients of official documents, like passports, to choose “Jerusalem, Israel” as their listed place of birth.

"A great honor to present the very first passport issued to an American citizen born in Jerusalem with the place of birth designated as “Israel” to Menachem Zivotofsky, who first applied 18 years ago and litigated twice before the US Supreme Court," tweeted Ambassador Friedman Friday. "Mazal Tov!"

Friedman credited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with securing the change to State Department policy.

“I would like to thank Secretary Michael Pompeo for his leadership. It’s no secret that under prior stewardship the State Department would not alter the passport designation even after Jerusalem was recognized as Israel’s capital. Secretary Pompeo cut through that bureaucracy and brought our passport policy in line with our foreign policy and common sense.”