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Democratic platform shifts on Israel

The Romney campaign and its supporters reacted angrily Tuesday to a few lines in the Democratic Party platform that leave for negotiation the status of Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees in any final peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians.

The GOP anger stems from a change to the 2008 Democratic platform, which stated that Jerusalem “is and will remain” Israel’s capital. The line has been removed from the 2012 Democratic platform. In addition, the 2012 platform does not say that Palestinian refugees or their descendants will only be allowed to resettle inside a future Palestinian state, not property inside Israel. The 2008 platform made clear they would only be allowed to resettle inside a future Palestinian state -- not Israel -- effectively rejecting what has come to be known as the Palestinian “right of return.”

In a statement issued on Romney campaign letterhead, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the changes were consistent with what he called Obama’s “steady distancing” of the United States from Israel, its closest ally in the Middle East.

But the U.S. government does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because Palestinians also claim the 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 U.S. government’s position on both Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees is that they should be settled through negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians as part of “final status” talks. The peace process is currently inactive.

Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler spoke Monday evening and said the party platform reflected Obama's "unflinching commitment" to Israel. "The president's opponents have been busy distorting his record." 

Scott Wilson is the chief White House correspondent for the Washington Post. Previously, he was the paper’s deputy Assistant Managing Editor/Foreign News after serving as a correspondent in Latin America and in the Middle East.



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