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Declare Jerusalem capital of Israel

An Israeli flag is seen back-dropped by Dome Rock Mosque Jerusalem's Old City Tuesday Dec. 1 2009. Israel issued stern

An Israeli flag is seen back-dropped by the Dome of the Rock Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009. Israel issued a stern warning to the EU on Tuesday over a purported plan to recognize east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, saying the proposal would damage Europe's credibility as a Mideast mediator. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

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Updated: October 12, 2012 6:10AM

The tempest over the initial failure of the Democrats to include the status of Jerusalem in their platform and the messy way they fixed it demonstrated how both political parties tend to treat the subject of the capital of Israel in hollow election rhetoric. The reality is that Jewish history in Jerusalem stretches back over millennia and the U.S. government should recognize the reality of the city as the capital of Israel.

But the pattern is well established: During election seasons, Democrats and Republicans put declarations in their platforms that the City of David is the capital of the Jewish state. But whichever party’s candidate captures the White House eventually acquiesces to the State Department’s position that the city is a matter of final status negotiations to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Only an imbecile could attempt to imagine a final settlement in which Jerusalem would not be the capital of Israel. Does any rational person think the Israelis are going to turn the wrecking ball on the Knesset? Pull out the Bible, read the familiar Jewish stories of the holy city. King David made it the seat of Jewish sovereignty 3,000 years ago. The First Temple was built there by King Solomon but razed by Babylonians. The Second Temple rose in its place, but was destroyed by the Romans. Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the Temple site, yet the Western Wall remains. Only during the cruel Jordanian occupation of east Jerusalem until 1967 were Jews denied the right to worship there.

Jewish history, holy writings, faith and ceremony — the words “Next year in Jerusalem” constitute an integral part of important religious observances — testify to the enduring centrality of Jerusalem to Jews and to the state of Israel.

Unknowns and possibilities hover over a final resolution of the conflict and the status of Jerusalem. Is it in the realm of possibility there could be a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem? That’s possible if Palestinians ever wake up to the attractions and desirability of peace. But for certain Jerusalem will remain the eternal capital of Israel.

Why not have Washington recognize that? Far from harming the chances for peace, it would enhance them by injecting a cold hard fact into the negotiations. It would be a powerful answer to the poisonous Palestinian propaganda seeking to deny any Jewish connection to the city. Such a position would, in effect, say to the Palestinians, hey, it’s time to get serious, it’s time to stop fantasizing about a Middle East without Israel, it’s time to give up on genocidal dreams.

President Barack Obama’s administration temporizes and mouths State Department dithering. The Democratic Party is drifting in a bad direction. Anyone watching its convention could have little doubt but that the voice votes — clumsily ignored by the convention chair — were against restoring Jerusalem to the platform. Worse, still in the platform is language abandoning past positions requiring the isolation of Hamas until it renounces terrorism, stating a future Palestinian state, not Israel, will be the home for millions of Palestinian “refugees” and insisting on defensible borders for Israel.

In a visit to the Old City this summer, Mitt Romney called Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.” Would he stick by those words if elected? Given where he said them, he would have a hard time walking them back to the State Department’s nebulous diplomacy.

An American president needs to lead the world in acknowledging simple reality.

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