During his recent visit to Israel, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney commented that ‚??it is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.‚?Ě Somehow this declaration of fact has become controversial and a ‚??gaffe.‚?Ě
Needless to say, the Obama Administration took a shot at Romney’s foreign policy “fumbles.” And in response to the candidate’s innocuous declaration, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated: ‚??Well, our view is that that‚??s a different position than this administration holds. It‚??s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties.‚?Ě
Funny, because when addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on June 4, 2008, as a Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama said that ‚??Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.‚?Ě Like Romney, Obama upset the perpetually upset¬†Palestinian government.
later¬†immediately¬†backtracked ‚?? or perhaps evolved — saying, ‚??Well, obviously, it‚??s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations‚?Ě ‚?? which is nearly identical to the position Mitt Romney took this past week on the status of (East) Jerusalem.
The media has also taken up the charge. The Week claimed that ‚??Romney also delivered a policy speech, pointedly calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel (a controversial declaration that U.S. presidents have avoided for decades).‚?Ě¬†Newsweek/Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, a supporter of a¬†judenfrei¬†West Bank (sometimes he sounds like a supporter of a judenfrei Middle East) ¬†notes that it is¬†striking¬†“how the entire foreign policy position of the GOP in the Middle East has essentially been out-sourced to the Likud.”
On the question of Jerusalem, then, Romney joins other noted Likudnick radicals like Bill Clinton, who, during the 1992 campaign, said that he would “recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city, the eternal capital of Israel, and I believe in the principle of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”¬†And¬†John Kerry, whose campaign material in 2004 stated that he “has long advocated moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel‚??s indisputable capital. In 1999, he signed a letter taking President Clinton to task for not moving the embassy.‚?Ě