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“The Obama Administration has followed the same policy towards Jerusalem that previous U.S. administrations of both parties have done since 1967,” the statement said. “As the White House said several months ago, the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians – which we also said in the 2008 platform.”
The reference to final-status negotiations did in fact appear in the 2008 platform, but the plank also included a statement saying that “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.”
So why did it disappear in 2012?
JTA spoke to three people directly involved in shaping the platform, and a number of others who had consulted with the party. The short answer: No one knew.
“There was no discussion on it,” said Robert Wexler, a member of the platform draft committee, and a chief Jewish surrogate for the Obama campaign. “It’s a good question.”
Wexler said that those shaping the platform were not focused on final-status issues, which include Jerusalem. The former Florida congressman said he did not know if there was a directive from the Obama campaign to avoid such issues, but said it was fair to “deduce” that there was.
Instead, said Wexler – the only person involved in shaping the platform who agreed to speak on the record to JTA – the campaign wanted the draft committee to focus on security issues in its Israel section, an area that the platform makes clear is a priority.
“A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values,” the 2012 platform reads, listing defense assistance, missile defense cooperation and maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge. “The President’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security.”
A separate section on Iran breaks new ground by making more explicit than in previous platforms that a military strike is an option to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“President Obama believes that a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution,” the platform says. “At the same time, he has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options – including military force – remain on the table.” The 2008 platform refers only to “keeping all options on the table.”