Romney is either abysmally ignorant of the history of U.S. policy on this question or he considers grubbing for votes to be more important than standing in a city that is the center of a major foreign policy question and presuming to announce a major change in U.S. policy before he's even elected. (My personal money is on both of the above.) Wikipedia actually has a pretty good synopsis of the history of U.S. foreign policy on this question, as I understand it (and I took a course on the Middle East in world politics only a few years after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and have generally followed the issue since that time):
The U.S. opposed Israel’s moving its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem following Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1949 and opposed Jordan’s plan to make Jerusalem its second capital announced in 1950. The U.S. opposed Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after the 1967 war. The United States maintains a consulate in Jerusalem that deals primarily with the Palestinian Authority, while relations with the Israeli government are handled from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. The U.S. consulate is not accredited to the Israeli government. The United States has proposed that the future of Jerusalem should be the subject of a negotiated settlement. Subsequent administrations have maintained the same policy that Jerusalem’s future not be the subject of unilateral actions that could prejudice negotiations such as moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In 2002, Congress passed legislation that said that American citizens born in Jerusalem may list "Israel" as their country of birth, although Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have not allowed it.
The United States and, with a handful of temporary exceptions from small countries, all countries have maintained their embassies in Tel Aviv, and have refused to move them to Jerusalem, despite the urgings of the Israeli government. The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem does not operate under the jurisdiction of the Embassy in Tel Aviv, as do most consulates. Instead, as described in the State Department's website:
It now represents the United States in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip as an independent mission, with the Consul General serving as chief of mission.
Make no mistake about it. In the words of the Vice President on another subject, "this is a big fucking deal." Other politicians, including President Obama, have recognized that Jerusalem is de facto the capital of Israel, but they have also taken the position that the final status of Jerusalem is a matter for negotiation between the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the international community, and have therefore refused to move the Embassy there. And now Mitt Romney not only says he intends to move the Embassy, he says he "would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel."
Since when do Presidential candidates stand on foreign soil and pledge to conduct U.S. foreign policy in accordance with the desires of the foreign government on whose soil they are standing? No other candidate has ever done so, and it is an outrage for this one to do it now. I would personally not be surprised if innocent Americans died as a result of this show of a stunning combination of arrogance and ignorance. But hey, at least Mitt got somebody to like him on this trip (from the Yahoo link above the fold):
His remarks on the subject during his speech drew a standing ovation from his audience, which included Sheldon Adelson, the American businessman who has said he will donate millions to help elect Romney to the White House.
Comments are closed on this story.