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Democrats Restore References to God and Jerusalem to Platform

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 05:20 PM

After being blasted by Republicans, embarrassed Democrats have reinstated language into their party platform that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as the words "God-given" that had been removed.

The platform released Monday dropped a clause included in the 2008 platform that read: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel." That platform went on to say, however, that "[t]he 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 party did an about-face to "reflect the President's personal view," CBS News reported Wednesday.

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The platform wording was changed in a voice vote among Democratic delegates on the floor of their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

There were a number of "no" votes recorded, and it took convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles mayor, several attempts to get the "yes" vote recorded.

And even after the vote, many thought the crowd of delegates on the floor was split 50-50, rather than delivering the two-thirds majority needed.

“I think it is a mistake and I’m not happy about it,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, said of the original language.

“I disagree with that platform,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, added.

“We try to avoid this type of conflict by providing ammunition to the other side to exploit,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez, also of New York, said.

Four years ago, during the last presidential campaign, the Democratic Party's platform had said "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."

But this year that language was dropped, drawing criticism from presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans.

The status of Jerusalem is fiercely contested between the Palestinians and Israel, which seized eastern Jerusalem during a 1967 war, and is among the thorny "final status" issues to be determined in any peace negotiations.

Most countries, including the United States, have not recognized Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital and keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Previous U.S. presidential candidates, including then-Senator Obama in June 2008, have referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital before elections. But as president they have always left the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem is "the capital of Israel," Romney said in July, prompting criticism from the Palestinians as well as China. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the comment "absolutely unacceptable."

Obama said in 2008 that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," though he later softened his stance and said he is not trying to "predetermine" the final status of the city. As president, he has maintained that, as his campaign put it to CBS News, "the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

I't's "unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama's shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Romney said when news of the platform broke on Tuesday.

"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," he said. "As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally."

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The word "God" was dropped from a paragraph that, in 2008, spoke of giving those willing to work the opportunity to "make the most of their God-given potential." A similar paragraph in the first platform reads "the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us."

Romney voiced his disappointment.

"I think their having removed purposefully God from their platform suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people," Romney told Fox News. "I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize."

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