WASHINGTON — The White House corrected the official transcript of President Obama’s eulogy for former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres Friday to remove a reference to Jerusalem as part of Israel.
The White House released the routine transcript Friday morning under the heading “Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” Nine hours later, it released a corrected version with Israel crossed out, like so: “Jerusalem
Obama has followed the policy of previous administrations in not recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel.
Israel considers Jerusalem to be its capital; the United Nations does not and considers the city to have a special status belonging to both Israel and Palestine.
The U.S. position is, well, complicated.
The American embassy is in Tel Aviv. But in 1995, Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, declaring: “Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.”
Facing veto-proof majorities, President Bill Clinton allowed the bill to go into effect without his signature, even while arguing that Congress has no authority under the constitution to determine the issue.
However, Clinton and his successors have also filed a presidential declaration every six months invoking an exception to the law, allowing presidents to maintain the embassy in Tel Aviv if they deem it to be in “the national security interests of the United States.” President Obama last renewed that declaration in June.