Jerusalem change made to party platform, over loud objections

September 5, 2012

Democratic delegates narrowly reinstated to their party platform Wednesday the position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, reversing an omission that had angered some Jewish organizations and drew criticism from Republicans that President Obama was distancing the United States from its closest ally in the Middle East.

The amendment to the platform, which essentially restores the language on Jerusalem from the 2008 version, was introduced by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. It was put to a voice vote by Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, who had to ask three times for “aye” votes before determining that the amendment had a two-thirds majority.

Many delegates were left angry over the outcome. Some stood up from their seats inside the Time Warner Arena, shaking their fingers at Villaraigosa and booing. (A vote during the Republican National Convention on changes to party nomination rules was also controversial.)

The 2008 platform stated that Jerusalem “is and will remain” Israel’s capital. The document was drafted at a time when the Bush administration was mediating peace talks between the Israeli administration of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The talks collapsed before Obama took office.

The original 2012 platform omitted any reference to Jerusalem, even though an adviser to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a leading pro-Israel lobbying organization, said it included in its proposal to the Democratic drafting committee the same language that was used four years ago. 

The U.S. government does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital --  its embassy is in Tel Aviv —  because Palestinians also claim the holy city as the capital of their future state. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it, although the move is not recognized internationally.

Democrats also voted to reinstate a line from the 2008 platform embracing "God-given potential," reflecting Republican criticism that the platform ignored faith in God.

 

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