Still Won’t List Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital on Official Docs, Passports,
By Adam Kredo
December 8, 2017
The United States still will not formally recognize
Jerusalem as being located in Israel on official documents, maps, and
passports, despite President Donald Trump's announcement earlier this week that
America is formally recognizing the holy city as Israel's capital, according to
State Department officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about
Despite Trump's declaration, which was formally codified on
Wednesday into U.S. policy, the State Department is taking a more nuanced
position on the matter, drawing some ire in Congress among pro-Israel lawmakers
who accuse the State Department of undermining Trump's efforts.
State Department officials this week had
difficulty stating as fact that Jerusalem is located within Israel,
instead trying to parse the issue as still subject to diplomatic negotiations.
State Department officials who spoke to the Free
Beacon about the situation said that while it supports Trump's declaration
that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it is not yet at the point where it
will list Jerusalem as part of Israel on passports, maps, and official
documents. This means that official documents, such as passports, will not, at
this point, list "Jerusalem, Israel" as a place that exists.
The State Department's careful parsing of the issue has
already drawn outrage on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are describing this
as part of an effort to undermine the Trump White House's clear-cut declaration
on the matter.
"The president is the commander-in-chief and America's
sole organ when it comes to conducting foreign policy," Rep. Ron
DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Free
Beacon. "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 said. " 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
A State Department official who spoke to the Free
Beacon about the matter made clear that the United States now
"recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its seat of
However, "the specific boundaries of Israeli
sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations," the
official said, explaining 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," the State Department official
With regards to U.S. passports for Americans born in
Jerusalem, there will be no formal change in American policy on the matter.
The issue of listing "Jerusalem, Israel" as a
person's birthplace has been a hot button issue over the years, with a case even
being adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Americans born in Jerusalem still will not be able to list
Israel as the birth nation on their passports.
"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 regards to official maps and documentation, the State
Department is still engaged in a process to figure out how exactly to classify
"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 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."
When asked if official documents will bear the words,
"Jerusalem, Israel," the State Department could not provide a concrete
"This is quite a complex issue that we continue to
study and work through," the official said.
One senior official at a large, national pro-Israel
organization cautioned against viewing the State Department's stance as an
effort to subvert Trump's declaration on Jerusalem.
"It's too early to panic," the official, speaking
on background, told the Free Beacon. "The administration was focused
on getting the broad policy correct and meeting the president's demand that we
finally acknowledge the simple reality Jerusalem is Israel's capital."
"Now they're going to take a month to figure out the
consequences," explained the official, who has been briefed on the
situation. "Implementing pro-Israel fact-based policy is a new thing for
some of our diplomats, and many others have forgotten how that works in recent
years, so people are willing to give them some time. If at the end of the
process nothing has changed, there will be broad criticism – to say nothing of
pro-Israel voters around the county who will be bitterly let down."