Top Democrats brushed off changes to the Democratic Party platform that erase reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, nix Hamas as a terror organization, and alter language regarding Palestinian settlement.
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN that he hadn’t been briefed “on what happened with the platform.”
“Personally, I’ve been involved, as you just said, in a lot of jobs. I’ve never read our party’s platform,” the Chicago mayor said. “I’ve worked with two great presidents who have been steadfast friends of the state of Israel.”
Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last night the changes reflect that “the president’s position on Jerusalem is the position of bipartisan administrations going back many years, that this is a decision that needs to be made through negotiation between the two parties.”
“No one should mistake anything in this platform but the president’s undeniable commitment to the security of Israel,” she said.
The 2008 platform said, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel, the parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
The 2012 platform says, “The president’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security.” The specific reference to Israel was removed.
“The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. Administrations of both parties have done since 1967,” a DNC spokeswoman said of the change in platform language. “As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – which we also said in the 2008 platform. We will continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue as part of a two state solution that secures the future of Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D) reacted defensively to the changes on Fox News last night.
“The first president to recognize the state of Israel was Harry Truman, a Democrat. And every president since, Democrat and Republican, have stood closely with Israel. I know what’s going on here, in an effort to try to justify Sheldon Adelson and the money that he’s spending in the name of really standing up to Israel,” Durbin said.
“The Democrats and Republicans are committed to Israel’s future and security, and I’m one of them,” he said.
When host Bret Baier said he was going to move on after pressing the senator some more on why it was changed, Durbin snapped, “I hope you will.”