Day After DNC ‘Jerusalem’ Controversy, State Dept. Still Refuses to Name Israel’s Capital
Even after the Democratic Party reinstated wording that mentions Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to “reflect” the views of President Obama at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday, the U.S. State Department again refused to name the capital of Israel on Thursday, citing a vague “administration policy” that says Israel and Palestine should resolve the issue through negotiations.
“Which city does the U.S. Government recognize as the capital in the – Israel?” a reporter asked State Department Press Secretary Patrick Ventrell.
“Well, as you know, longstanding 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. So that’s longstanding Administration policy and continues to be so,” Ventrell replied.
The reporter was persistent but was unable to get any other response from him. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also refused to name the capital of Israel in July and another State Department official had a similar exchange in March.
The State Department’s daily press briefing provides the full transcript of the uncomfortable exchange:
QUESTION: On Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Which city does the U.S. Government recognize as the capital in the – Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, longstanding 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. So that’s longstanding Administration policy and continues to be so.
QUESTION: I mean, no city is recognized as a capital by the U.S. Government?
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I just stated our position, and it’s one we’ve said here many times before.
QUESTION: That means Jerusalem is not a part of Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: What it means is that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in final status negotiations.
QUESTION: But you do have an Embassy in a city which is not Jerusalem.
MR. VENTRELL: Our Embassy is in Tel Aviv, and we have a Consulate General in Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you have an Embassy, usually it’s in the capital; so therefore, it would appear that you believe that Tel Aviv is the capital.
MR. VENTRELL: What we believe is that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in final status negotiations between the two parties. And currently, our Embassy is in Tel Aviv.
QUESTION: Are there any other countries in the world where the U.S. doesn’t know what the capital is or won’t say what the capital of a country is?
QUESTION: What does the U.S. think the capital of Israel is? What do you –
MR. VENTRELL: As I’ve just said, we believe that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status –
QUESTION: I’m not asking you that question. I’m asking you what you think the capital is.
MR. VENTRELL: And my response is that Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations.
QUESTION: She didn’t ask about Jerusalem, though.
MR. VENTRELL: Look, this is something we’ve been through at this podium. Toria has been through it before. We’ve repeated it many times. You know that the position is. It hasn’t changed for decades.
QUESTION: Wait, I know that. And I don’t want to play the verbal game, I’m just very curious if you actually have a position about a capital of that country. And if you don’t, if – I just would like to hear you say you don’t.
MR. VENTRELL: Well, right now, Nicole –
MR. VENTRELL: – the situation is that we have an Embassy in Tel Aviv that represents our interests with the Government of Israel but that the issue of Jerusalem is one that has to be resolved between the two parties. That’s all I can say on this.
(H/T: Weekly Standard)
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