why is the Executive branch so dead set against recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel? That question is answered in Tuesday’s Opinion, as well. The Secretary of State responded to questioning during the discovery phase of the litigation. The Secretary addressed the reason the Foreign Affairs Manual is so explicit and so emphatic about not including Israel as the country in which Jerusalem is located:
andAny unilateral action by the Untied States that would signal, symbolically or concretely, that it recognizes that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.
The Palestinians would view any United States change with respect to Jerusalem as an endorsement of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem and a rejection of their own. [emphasis added by the court] Thus, ‘within the framework of this highly sensitive, and potentially volatile mix of political, juridical and religious considerations, U.S. Presidents have consistently endeavored to maintain a strict policy of not prejudging the Jerusalem status issue and this not engaging in official actions that would recognize, or might be perceived as constituting a recognition of, Jerusalem as either the capital city of Israel, or as a city located within the sovereign territory of Israel.” [emphasis added by the court]
And just to be clear about which party is the one the Executive branch is fearful of offending, the court again quotes testimony provided by the Secretary of State at an earlier stage of the litigation, who reported that “various Palestinian groups issued statements asserting that Section 214(d) ‘undermined the role of the U.S. as a sponsor of the peace process,”undervalued … Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights in Jerusalem” and”raised questions about the real position of the U.S. administration vis-à-vis Jerusalem.’ And with that, the court rejects the relevant portion of the FRAA as a conscious effort of the congress to usurp a “considered exercise of the Executive branch’s recognition power.”