Despite President Trump’s acknowledgement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the announcement that the US will be moving their embassy there, uncertainty remains.
When asked about President Trump’s order, State Department officials announced that on official maps, documents, and passports, Jerusalem will not be marked as Israel’s capital. Unsurprisingly, this tepid backpeddling has drawn harsh criticism from pro-Israel politicians, and Trump supporters.
State Department officials were not able to clearly state the reason for their decision, or explain how this would impact middle east diplomatic operations.
The State Department officials who had spoken to the news reporters about the prevailing situation said that while they support Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, they have not yet decided to list Jerusalem as the part of Israel on passports, maps, and other official documents. This means that the official documents, such as the passports, would not, at this point, list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place that exists on maps.
The State Department’s careful breakdown of this issue has already drawn huge rage and anger on the Capitol Hill, where some of the lawmakers are describing this as part of an effort to strictly undermine the Trump and White House’s open announcement of their stance on the matter.
“The president is the commander-in-chief and America’s sole organ when it comes to conducting foreign policy,” Representative Ron DeSantis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “Article II of the Constitution does not vest this authority in bureaucrats in the State Department”.
“The State Department must permit Americans born in Jerusalem to list ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ on their passports and must follow the logical implications of this historic recognition in other policy areas,” DeSantis added. “President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the right thing to do and enjoys broad support from the American people; an entrenched bureaucracy has no right to stymie this decision.”
A State Department official further made obvious that the United States now “recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its seat of government.”
However, “the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations,” the official explained, saying that the holy city’s exact location and placement in Israel proper is still up for debate.
“While we are affirming the current and historic reality of Jerusalem’s role as Israel’s capital and seat of government, any ultimate determination of sovereignty over Jerusalem will flow from the results of negotiations between the parties,” said the State Department official.
With regards to U.S. passports for Americans who were born in Jerusalem, there will be no formal change in the American policy on the matter.
The issue of listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as the person’s birthplace has been a very sensitive issue over the past years, with a case that was even being adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There is no change in policy at this time,” according to the State Department official. “We will provide any new guidance as and when appropriate.”
With relation to the official maps and documentation, the State Department is still busy with the process to figure out how exactly Jerusalem could be classified.
“The president is taking a specific step in affirming that the United States believes that Jerusalem has and will continue to serve as Israel’s capital—and the U.S. is not backing off efforts towards encouraging the parties to resolve their differences over final status issues in a comprehensive peace agreement,” according to the State Department official.
However, the president’s declaration is extremely limited in nature and is being reviewed by the State Department, as it moves forward.
“The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations,” the official said. “The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders.”