An Obama campaign official confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD that President Obama “personally” intervened to alter the Democratic platform to include a reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The new platform, adopted this evening at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, now includes pro-Israel language that the previous document did not.
The president did want to make clear what his personal beliefs were because they were not in the original platform,” the campaign official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The new language reads, “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.”
However, while the new Democratic platform apparently now reflects the “personal beliefs” of President Obama, it is now at odds with Obama administration policy.
In July, when White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked to name the capital of Israel, he refused to do so. Acknowledging that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the Obama administration insists, would pre-judge one of the “final status issues” in the peace process.
The campaign official acknowledged this discrepancy. “The president has a personal view, but the president and the administration’s view as a matter of policy is ultimately that Jerusalem is a final status issue,” said the official.
She elaborated, “It doesn’t make sense for a U.S. a president impose his personal beliefs in a policy context. … But it’s important for him to make clear where he stands on these issues.”
So while Obama personally believes Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, his administration will not say so.
The official insisted, however, that it is commonplace for presidents to hold conflicting personal and policy views on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, citing Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as examples.
But let us not forget what President Obama said last year concerning the borders of Israel.
“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” Obama said. “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”