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.
“The language in the platform is 100 percent pro-Israel language,” said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic House member from Florida who now runs the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington.
Wexler, who acted as a liaison for Obama to a sometimes-suspicious Jewish community during the 2008 campaign, served on the platform-drafting committee and helped write the section on Israel.
He has heard the criticism, including Coleman’s complaint that the document does not explicitly condemn the armed Islamist movement Hamas, which the United States and Israel classify as a terrorist organization.
Wexler pointed to the section that notes “we have deepened defense cooperation — including funding the [missile defense] Iron Dome system — to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.”
“The overarching principle of this section of the platform was to underscore America’s unbreakable bond with Israel in the context of today — the continuation of Iran’s nuclear program, Hezbollah’s missiles in southern Lebanon, and the rockets of Hamas in Gaza,” Wexler said. “The issues that were front and center in 2008 were not the same that are front and center in 2012.”
But Wexler, who devoted his four-minute speech Tuesday at the convention to U.S.-Israel relations, said the fact that the platform leaves Jerusalem, refugee rights and other final-status issues up to Israelis and Palestinians should be applauded by even Israel’s most hawkish parties.
“They have long made clear they do not want to be dictated to by the United States,” he said. “The only thing I can say is that I give credit to the Republican Party, really, for creating a lot of anger over what is essentially nothing in the last few days.”
David Nakamura contributed to this report.