The Supreme Court has decided that the United States needs to remain neutral in an ancient debate over who controls one of the world’s holiest cities.
The issue is a passport and whether the parents of a child born in Jerusalem could put the word “Israel” on the document’s listing of one’s place of birth.
It’s kind of convoluted. The court — in a 6-3 decision — sided with the executive branch of government, which contended that “Jerusalem” should stand alone on passports, given the contentious nature of the debate over who actually controls the city.
Longstanding policy had stated that passports marking the place of birth of those who hold them shouldn’t put Jerusalem in Israel, as it remains a key sticking point in the on-going dispute between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority.
The American citizens of a boy born in Jerusalem in 2002 wanted his passport to contain the word “Israel.” Congress enacted a bill declaring that birth certificates could identify the birthplace as Jerusalem, Israel if parents requested. President Bush signed the bill into law, but complained that it interfered with the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.
The court sided with the executive branch.
I’ve been to Jerusalem. Much of it clearly is in Israel. The Israeli government has its capital there. However, the city also is divided by a large, forbidding wall, on the other side of which is the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority.
The Supreme Court has decided correctly in not interfering in this most sensitive dispute.
As NBC News’s Pete Williams reported: “The administration, under presidents of both parities, has insisted that because sovereignty over Jerusalem is one of the major sticking points in any Middle East peace agreement, the U.S. would remain neutral. Being forced to say that Jerusalem was under the control of Israel, the idea went, would be taking sides.”