Last month the State Department weirdly declared that Jerusalem is separate from Israel. This month the Obama administration declined to move the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital. Jonathan decsribes the notification as a symbol of Obama’s hostility to a united Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority crowed that “the world and the U.S. don’t recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” a followup to their calls for Arab “resistance” throughout the city.
You’d expect at least the PA to be underwhelmed, since Presidents Clinton and Bush also used to issue twice-a-year notifications declining to move the embassy. That’s certainly what Obama’s defenders are pointing out. What they’re leaving unsaid—in a rhetorical and argumentative move that neatly repeats the line that they took during the “1967 borders” dust-up—is that previous Presidents also included wording implying that the embassy would eventually be moved. Obama’s statement removed that wording, leaving only the anti-Israel part of the statement intact.
Denying Israel’s right to its united capital, of course, rests upon the idea that East Jerusalem is some kind of “settlement.” That’s the position the President took when he demanded a halt to Israeli construction in the eastern part of the city, forcing the Palestinians to follow suit and bringing the peace process to a grinding halt. It ignores how Jews have indisputably been the majority in Jerusalem since at least 1853, to saying nothing of the ancient heritage of Jewish Jerusalem. Instead, it picks out the brief period between 1949 to 1967, when Jordan ethnically cleansed East Jerusalem of Jews to interrupt a continuous 1,000-year Jewish presence.