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White House, Romney at odds over Jerusalem

Mitt Romney

(JNS.org) After a reporter at a White House press briefing Monday pushed Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the issue of Mitt Romney’s comment that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, Earnest said Romney’s view is “a different position than this administration holds.”
“It’s the view of this administration that the capital [of Israel] is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties,” Earnest said. “I’d remind you that that’s the position that’s been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican.”
The Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls for Jerusalem to be recognized as the capital of Israel, was passed by Congress in 1995 but has never been implemented. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama have viewed it as a congressional infringement on the executive branch’s constitutional authority over foreign policy.
In June 2008, however, Obama himself — then an Illinois senator and presidential candidate — said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference that Jerusalem “will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Asked at a July 26 press briefing whether the Obama administration considers Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to be Israel’s capital, White House spokesman Jay Carney did not choose between the two cities, instead only responding that the administration’s position “has not changed.”
Immediately queried again on the subject, Carney reiterated his point with a similar answer of “You know our position,” without describing that position.
Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders lambasted Romney for his remark that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital as well as other contents of his speech on Sunday.
Romney’s comments were “racist and extremist and denied the Palestinian rights,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barboum said, the Times of Israel reported.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Romney’s statements “harmful to American interests in our region.” Additionally, an editorial in the Palestinian Authority daily publication, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, said Romney “outdid the Israeli apartheid state on many issues” during his speech.
“[Romney] went further than Israel on the Iranian issue, on Syria’s chemical weapons and on the political solution [to the Palestinian issue],” according to the editorial.

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