Despite US President Donald Trump’s landmark speech acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, his State Department has not changed its policy regarding the Israeli status of the city.
As per State Department policy, American citizens born in Jerusalem have their place of birth listed on their passports as ‘Jerusalem’, with no country assigned. A State Department official told reporters on Friday that while the US recognizes the Israeli capital, there would be no changes to consular practices or visa issuances, and does not necessarily mean that Jerusalem is considered as being within the borders of Israel.
“The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations. The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders,” a State Department representative told Associated Press. “With respect to maps, we are, of course, examining that issue, and when we have a decision we will announce it with respect to how we will treat Jerusalem for official USG-produced mapping purposes.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the US, issued a statement last week calling on the State Department to change their policy, asking that it “act in conformance” with Trump’s declaration.
This particular issue of listing Jerusalem as part of Israel on passports has been the focus of a contentious legal dispute for over 15 years. In 2002, Congress approved a law allowing US citizens to list their birthplace as ‘Jerusalem, Israel’. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, but said that he would not enforce the provision.
In the same year Menachem Zivotofsky requested his American son’s birthplace be listed as Jerusalem, Israel. The State Department refused and the case went to the Supreme Court. In 2015, in what was seen as a political victory for then-President Barack Obama, the US Supreme Court struck down the law.
Ironically, the reason given for repealing the law was that the power to make this decision lay solely with the president. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, stating that Congress had overstepped their authority.
“Recognition is a matter on which the nation must speak with one voice. That voice is the president’s,” Kennedy wrote.
There were several dissenting opinions among the Supreme Court justices. Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissenting opinion stating that the Constitution “divides responsibility for foreign affairs between Congress and the president.”
“The court takes the perilous step — for the first time in our history — of allowing the president to defy an act of Congress in the field of foreign affairs,” the Chief Justice wrote.
Last May, the Congress voiced its opinion on the subject again when 52 members of Congress signed a letter asking President Trump to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on official documents.The letter pointed out that Americans born in Taiwan are allowed to list that as their country of birth, despite the fact that the State Department recognizes Taiwan as being a part of China.
Source: Israel in the News