This story has turned into one the mini-controversies of the Democratic convention to this point. Last night the Free Beacon ran with a story that AIPAC had not been consulted on the final Democratic Party platform and had advocated for the party to retain language referring to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Today, Ron Kampeas has the best rundown so far, although it doesn’t really clarify anything:
It’s not clear what role, if any, pro-Israel groups played in the removal of the Jerusalem language from the Democratic Party platform, or if they tried to keep the language in.
A Jewish official, speaking on background, said that at least three American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials were present during the entire period when the platform was drafted last month in Minneapolis. Other Democratic and Jewish officials confirmed AIPAC’s participation in the process. Wexler said he had consulted with AIPAC officials on parts of the platform but had not discussed Jerusalem with them.
A source close to AIPAC said that the group never saw the full platform language, and that AIPAC officials were not in the room when the platform was being drafted. The source noted that AIPAC in its written submissions had made the case for including a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but also noted that AIPAC regarded both party platforms’ final draft Israel sections as “strong.”
A Jewish Democrat close to the platform drafting process sends this along —
First, I find a lot of this criticism surprising since my understanding is that AIPAC reviewed several versions of the language and never raised this issue once.
Second, Pres. Bush has a history here (“the status of Jerusalem will be ultimately determined by the interested parties” and he never delivered on his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem “as soon” as he took office) that DNC critics are conveniently ignoring.
Huffington Post has also picked up the story:
But the aide and a second source affiliated with the party — both of whom were not authorized to speak on the drafting process — added that officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the hardline pro-Israel interest group, had reviewed and approved the language prior to its finalization.
“They loved it,” said the aide who worked on the platform.
Representatives for AIPAC did not immediately return a request for comment.
Drafters of the DNC platform say they made the decision to back away from earlier, stronger terms because so-called “final status issues” like these should not be included in the platform of a governing party.
“The Dems took out all the mentions of final status issues because it’s silly to get into these in a party platform,” the aide said. “It doesn’t change the position of the Obama administration.”
The aide continued, “But we replaced it with ridiculously pro-Israel language. You read the platform and it’s like AIPAC wrote it. And now Republicans are saying it’s anti-Israel? Seriously?”
Below is the portion of the just-released 2012 Democratic National Party Platform that discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Middle East. President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. 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. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. 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.
It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.
Elsewhere in the region, President Obama is committed to maintaining robust security cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council states and our other partners aimed at deterring aggression, checking Iran’s destabilizing activities, ensuring the free flow of commerce essential to the global economy, and building a regional security architecture to counter terrorism, proliferation, ballistic missiles, piracy, and other common threats.
Haaretz reports that “more than a few pro-Israeli party functionaries at the convention [are fuming]” that the platform left out a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 2008 platform read, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” These same functionaries are also evidently upset that the “language on Iran wasn’t tough enough.”
Mitt Romney has responded with the following statement:
It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.