U.S.: Jerusalem-born Boy Can Sue to List Israel as His Birthplace

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the American parents of a boy born in Jerusalem can go to court to argue that their son's U.S. passport may list Israel as his birthplace.

Due to the State Department's long-standing policy, 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky's U.S. passport states that he was born in Jerusalem but does not specify a country.

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision allows the lower courts to deal with a case they had previously rejected, because they saw it as meddling with U.S. foreign policy.

There has been a U.S. law in place since 2002 allowing the country's passports to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as a place of birth. But that law - like Congress' 1995 decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem - has never been implemented.

U.S. law does not allow Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to list "Palestine" in their passports.

Jewish organizations involved with the case praised the Supreme Court decision.

"The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Jerusalem's place within Israel are both historic and holy," said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union's executive director for public policy. With this ruling, he said, "congressional policy on Jerusalem, ignored by successive administrations, will get its day in court."

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, released a statement expressing his satisfaction that the Supreme Court "will let the Zivotofskys pursue their effort to list 'Israel' as their son's place of birth on his American passport."

Since Israel's founding, the American government has not recognized the sovereignty of any country or entity - whether Israeli, Palestinian or Jordanian - over Jerusalem.

U.S. guidelines allow Palestinians born in East Jerusalem before 1948 to list "Palestine" as their country of birth, with no reference to Jerusalem.