5:46 pm Sep. 5, 2012
On what sounded like a closely contested voice vote this afternoon, Democrats restored language to their party platform that supports Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.
The language, which was included in the party's platform in 2008, had been conspicuously removed from the draft platform this year, leading to objections from a number of pro-Israel Democrats.
Among the objectors were both New York senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who stated their support for making Jerusalem the capital in separate interviews today.
"Democrats have always been for Jerusalem being the unified capital of Israel," Schumer said on CBS' "This Morning."
"I'm one of the leading Democrats on Middle East policy, and that's been my position for a long time. So this is a tempest in a teapot."
Schumer said he'd held that position for 20 years, and said it was the "overwhelming position" in the party. (The delegate voice vote, for what it's worth, was not overwhelming.)
Jerusalem is always a tricky issue for incumbents, since it's much easier to proclaim support for Jerusalem as an undivided capital than it is for sitting presidents to tip the scales on one of the thornier sticking points in the peace process.
(The amendend language now reads: “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 platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008," said Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in a statement after the voice vote.
On Sunday, before he left for Charlotte, Schumer told me that the president wouldn't have any trouble with Jewish voters, despite the Republicans' best efforts.
"I heard it when I ran against D'Amato and everyone said, 'Look how much he's done for Israel and Holocaust survivors,'" he said. "And I got 78 percent of the Jewish vote. And most of the 22 percent Alfonse D'Amato got were Orthodox votes or neocon votes. I think it'll be pretty much the same."
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