Embassy Row: Is Jerusalem in Israel? (WASHINGTON TIMES) By James Morrison 04/11/12)
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The State Department appeared stumped by a simple question: In what
country is the Israeli capital of Jerusalem located?
The ever-quotable chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
knew the answer and jumped on the State Department for appearing to
claim that Jerusalem isn’t even inside Israel.
“Where does the [Obama] administration think Jerusalem is? On Mars?”
said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican.
Her zinger followed the announcement of travel plans for Kathy
Stephens, acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public
The State Department in late March said Ms. Stephens would be
visiting “Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem and Israel” between March
23 and April 5. That announcement sounded as if the State Department
refused even to concede that Jerusalem is within the boundaries of
Israel, as Ms. Ros-Lehtinen noted.
On March 26, three days after Ms. Stephens left Washington, the State
Department issued another announcement that removed all references to
the countries she was visiting. It said she would travel to the
cities of “Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”
An alert reporter, Matt Lee of the Associated Press, noticed the
original announcement and challenged State Department spokeswoman
Victoria Nuland to explain whether the United States considers
Jerusalem as part of Israel and whether it recognizes the Holy City
as the capital of the Jewish state.
Mr. Lee and Ms. Nuland parried through nine questions as he pressed
for answers and she stuck to the diplomatic script.
The U.S. Embassy is located in Tel Aviv because Washington considers
the status of Jerusalem as an issue to be decided between Israelis
and Palestinians, who also claim Jerusalem as the capital of a future
“Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of
Israel?” Mr. Lee asked.
Ms. Nuland said the original announcement was a mistake.
“What is the capital of Israel?” Mr. Lee asked twice, and Ms. Nuland
repeated U.S. policy.
At one point, she appeared flustered. “I have just spoken to this
issue, and I have nothing further to say on it,” she said.
The questioning continued until Ms. Nuland finally called on another
The issue of Jerusalem has dogged U.S. presidents since 1995, when
Congress approved the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring the United
States to relocate the embassy to the Israeli capital.
However, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama
have invoked a waiver that allows a president to postpone moving the
embassy for national security reasons.
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen faulted all three presidents for evading the issue.
“The Obama administration has followed in the flawed footsteps of its
predecessors by refusing to fully implement U.S. law and move our
embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,” she said.
The issue reached the Supreme Court last month, when the parents of a
9-year-old boy born in Jerusalem challenged the State Department for
refusing to recognize his birthplace as being within Israel.
The court, in an 8-1 decision, ruled that the State Department was
ignoring a 2002 law that allows U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to
list Israel as their birthplace on their passports.
The controversy over Jerusalem surfaced in the race for the
Republican presidential nomination this week.
As a Republican presidential candidate, former Sen. Rick Santorum
criticized front-runner Mitt Romney for sidestepping a question in
December about recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
“I support recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,”
he wrote Monday in the New York Daily News, “and I will move the U.S.
Embassy to Jerusalem.”
On Tuesday, however, Mr. Santorum suspended his presidential
campaign. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 04/11/12)
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