If the Obama administration wants to soften its image among Israel supporters as being questionably interested in Israel’s interests, then refusing to describe Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was probably not the way to do it. In a press conference today, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland did exactly that, to the consternation of many reporters who repeatedly kept trying to clarify her remarks, only to be repeatedly stonewalled. The Weekly Standard has a transcript of the exchange, of which the relevant passage is as follows:
Q: Is it the view of the — of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy — the location of the U.S. embassy?
MS. NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.
Q: Does that — does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.
Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?
MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue –
MS. NULAND: — and I have nothing further to say on it.
Q: You’ve spoken to the issue –
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
Q: — but (haven’t answered ?) the question. And I think there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying — and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.
MS. NULAND: That is our –
Q: What is the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.
The story comes just after the Washington Free Beacon noted that the State Department had listed Israel and Jerusalem as separate entities in a press release, which has since been amended. Originally, the release read as follows:
Some would probably argue that coming down on one side or another of this question might have tipped the Obama administration’s hand too much on U.S. policy regarding Israel. Yet this ignores the fact that under current U.S. law, Jerusalem is considered the capital of Israel. That boat has sailed.
Blaze reader markedmanner has posted video of the exchange. You can watch it here:
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