Yet it is not true that any agreement precludes a simple alternative for U.S. policy that nobody has ever noticed or discussed: there is absolutely nothing to prevent the United States from accepting west Jerusalem, pre-1967 Jerusalem as capital of Israel while maintaining that the status of east Jerusalem is to be determined by future negotiations. The U.S. embassy could be moved to west Jerusalem, with the existing U.S. consulate there continuing to serve east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which means also dealing with the Palestinian Authority.
To be completely honest, such a move would provoke anti-Americanism in Arab and Muslim countries and it would be distorted by radicals, some of whom have been helped into power by the Obama administration. It is possible that U.S. embassies would be attacked. One should not gloss over that fact. Yet so many pretexts are found on a regular basis to do such things, a new decision on Jerusalem would be only one of many.
But keep in mind that the Palestinian Authority/Fatah position has been, for almost twenty years, that they are claiming all of east Jerusalem — everything captured by Israel in 1967 — but not west Jerusalem. Thus, moving the embassy to west Jerusalem would not conflict with Palestinian demands. It could even be coupled with a statement that the U.S. government believes that while the two sides must negotiate, it views with favor a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
At times, the White House and State Department spokespeople don’t seem to be aware of current U.S. policy on Jerusalem and the basis of it. There is no question that Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The only real issue are its precise boundaries, to be determined by negotiations.
There is a reasonable alternative to a policy that is about 65 years out of date. Recognize Jerusalem — that is, the Jerusalem that the United States and everyone else already recognizes as part of Israel — as Israel’s capital. That’s an option America’s next president might seriously consider.