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Dems change platform to include Jerusalem language after Obama intervened

CHARLOTTE – Following what Obama campaign officials said was the personal intervention of President Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee reversed itself and altered their platform Wednesday afternoon to include language identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After defending their decision to keep such language out of the platform as recently as this afternoon, ...

CHARLOTTE - Following what Obama campaign officials said was the personal intervention of President Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee reversed itself and altered their platform Wednesday afternoon to include language identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

After defending their decision to keep such language out of the platform as recently as this afternoon, convention leaders today proposed two amendments to the platform adopted on Tuesday, one to add a mention of God and one to add a mention of Jerusalem.

CHARLOTTE – Following what Obama campaign officials said was the personal intervention of President Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee reversed itself and altered their platform Wednesday afternoon to include language identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

After defending their decision to keep such language out of the platform as recently as this afternoon, convention leaders today proposed two amendments to the platform adopted on Tuesday, one to add a mention of God and one to add a mention of Jerusalem.

"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," the new platform language stated.

An Obama campaign official told The Cable late Wednesday that the change in platform was made to reflect the personal views of Obama, who believes that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and who "personally intervened" to ask for the platform change.

"Mitt Romney spent last week claiming the Republican platform didn’t reflect his personal views. That’s why the platform was amended, to make clear what the president’s personal views are on Jerusalem," the official said.

The official acknowledged that the administration’s policy remains not to weigh in on the final status of Jerusalem, which is an issue to be decided by the parties. But the official said that Obama’s views and the administration policy are two separate things.

“This makes crystal clear what the President’s personal view is. The policy has not changed.  The president has a personal view and the administration has a policy. They’re not incompatible but there are reasons that the administration’s policy is that the Jerusalem is a final status issue," the official said. “We wanted to make the President’s views clear.”

The Romney campaign was quick to call on Obama to publicly state that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, as his party’s platform language now states.

"Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Although today’s voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital," said campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

The amendments required two thirds of delegates’ support for adoption and the voice votes inside the arena were so inconclusive, the chair had to call for votes three times. After declaring that two thirds of the delegates had approved the amendments, the hall erupted in boos and howls.

Earlier Wednesday, drafters of the platform and top Democrats including former Rep. Robert Wexler defended the absence in the platform of language affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"There’s a difference between running for president and governing," a Democratic official involved in the drafting process told The Cable earlier today. "And when you govern on this issue, the official position of the United States has been for years and from administrations of both parties that the status of Jerusalem is a final-status issue."

But Democrats were heavily criticized by Romney, Paul Ryan, and many others for not including the Jerusalem language in the platform. AIPAC also told The Cable Wednesday that they had asked for the Jerusalem language in their submission to the DNC but had not seen the final text before the platform went to print.

AIPAC had other gripes about the platform, such as that it didn’t contain previous references to Hamas, Palestinian refugees, and language saying that Israel is America’s closest ally in the region, but they decided late Wednesday to get behind the new platform language and move on.

"We welcome reinstatement to the Democratic platform of the language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital," AIPAC said in a statement provided to The Cable. "Together, these party platforms reflect strong bipartisan support for the US – Israel relationship."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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