On Monday, the White House released a statement regarding the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem that seemed to pass under the radar, but implied a significant difference from previous history, acknowledging that Jerusalem is a part of Israel. The White House statement read, “President Donald J. Trump today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the State of Israel to attend the opening of the United States Embassy on May 14, 2018, in Jerusalem, Israel.”
To the uniformed observer, this would seem an innocuous enough statement, but acknowledging Jerusalem is in Israel is something the U.S. State Department has refused to do for decades.
After President Trump announced last December that the United states would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the State Department quickly reiterated its long-standing position that American citizens born in Jerusalem could only list the city on their passport, as opposed to listing Israel as well, asserting, “At this time, there are no changes to our current practices regarding place of birth on Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and U.S. Passports.”
At the same time, State Department officials told The Washington Free Beacon that the United States would continue its policy of not formally recognizing Jerusalem as being located in Israel on official documents, maps, and passports.
American citizens born in Jerusalem prior to 1948 had to list “Palestine” as their birthplace.
In 2002, Congress passed legislation that instructed the State Department to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel on their passports as their birthplace. In 2013, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled against the law. The court upheld the tradition that the president had the sole authority to say who controls Jerusalem.