State Dept. Refuses to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital at Press Conference
April 3, 2012

ZOA Urges Clarification in Light of U.S. Law



 State Dept. Refuses to Recognize Jerusalem
as Israeli Capital at Press Conference



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon the U.S. State Department to clarify that it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in accordance with U.S. law, following a press briefing by departmental spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, who refused to confirm the fact. 


In her March 28 press briefing, Ms. Nuland, when asked by a reporter, “Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?” refused to say that it was. Instead, Ms. Nuland said, “With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations between the parties.” When further pressed, “Is it the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the [U.S.] Embassy, the location of the Embassy [which, under a 1995 law, should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but which is subject to six-month waivers that have been invoked by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama]?” Ms. Nuland persisted in her refusal to answer the question:


MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations.


QUESTION: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?


MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue —


QUESTION: No, no. But —


MS. NULAND: — and I have nothing further to say on it.


QUESTION: You’ve spoken to the issue but didn’t answer the question, and I think there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying – and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.


MS. NULAND: That is our —


QUESTION: What is the capital of Israel?


MS. NULAND: Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.


QUESTION: What is the capital of Israel?


MS. NULAND: Our Embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.


QUESTION: So does that mean that you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?


MS. NULAND: The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.


QUESTION: I just want to go back to – I want to clarify something.




QUESTION: Perhaps give you an out on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final status issue? Or do you think… or is it just East Jerusalem?


MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I said 17 times on that subject. Okay?


QUESTION: All right. So hold on – so – I just want to make sure, you’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final status issue?


MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said. (Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC March 28, 2012).


The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by the U.S. Congress on October 23, 1995, by an overwhelming vote of 93 to 5 in the Senate and 374 to 37 in the House of Representatives, rejects the past American practice of maintaining the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv and mandates its relocation in Jerusalem. It also holds that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected” and that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” Israel annexed the eastern portion of Jerusalem in 1967 and confirmed the fact with its 1980 Jerusalem Law. 


Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Hebrew Bible, but not even once in the Muslim Quran. During the period 1948-67, when the eastern half of the city, with its religious shrines, was under Jordanian control, no Arab ruler other than Jordanian King Hussein visited it. Also, under Jordanian rule, thousands of Jewish gravestones were desecrated and used to make Jordanian army latrines, while all the synagogues in the city were deliberately destroyed. Jerusalem became a backwater under Jordanian rule, which maintained its capital in Amman. 70% of Jerusalem’s current population is Jewish and the Knesset and all government ministries other than Defense are located in the city, as are the country’s Supreme Court, its oldest and largest university, the Hebrew University, and its largest hospital, the Hadassah Medical Center.


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply perplexed and troubled by Ms. Nuland’s repeated refusal to clarify a simple fact – that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. We say this, fully aware of the fact that the eastern portion of Jerusalem has been an item in negotiations conducted between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – never the western portion. However, this does not in any way alter the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that U.S. law, overwhelmingly passed by Congress, explicitly specifies and recognizes this fact. The question therefore arises: why is the State Department refusing to acknowledge these facts and speak in accordance with U.S. law?

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