The House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman went after a State Department release that noted an official’s travel to “Jerusalem and Israel,” and called on the Obama administration to publicly recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.
The Monday media note bore the headline “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel.” The next said she was traveling to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“Where does the administration think Jerusalem is?” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said. “On Mars?”
The chairwoman noted that the administration has refused to budge in three years by not moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
“Now, the administration has gone even further,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “A mistake on a press release is understandable, but today the administration doubled down on its determination to treat Jerusalem as separate from Israel.”
“Legitimizing the myth that Jerusalem isn’t part of Israel undermines our ally Israel’s sovereign right to designate its own capital, and lends credibility to efforts by Palestinian leaders and extremists who continue to deny the connection of the Jewish people to their historic capital, Jerusalem,” she said.
“The administration needs to face reality, recognize publicly that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, and fully enforce U.S. law by moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”
At yesterday’s press briefing, a reporter asked spokeswoman Victoria Nuland if it’s the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel.
“Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed,” Nuland responded. “The first Media Note was issued in error without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that Under Secretary – Acting Under Secretary for R, Kathy Stephens, will be traveling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations between the parties.”
The reporter grilled her further about what the capital of Israel is.
“Our Embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv,” Nuland said.