Palestinians: Democrats' Failure to Recognize Our Claim to Jerusalem Will Destroy the Peace Process

Abbas aide criticizes Democratic Party's decision to restore mention of Jerusalem as Israel's capital to party platform.

The Palestinians criticized the U.S. Democratic Party's decision to declare Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The Democrats on Wednesday restored language in the platform saying Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel." A day earlier, the language had been removed from the platform, prompting Republicans to question U.S. President Barack Obama's support for Israel.

The language is at odds with U.S. policy calling for the status of Jerusalem to be resolved through negotiations. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Thursday the Democrat's decision might just be "election propaganda." He said a failure to recognize the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem will "destroy the peace process" and lead to "endless war."

Israeli officials declined comment.

On Wednesday, Democrats voted to change their convention platform to add a mention of God and declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Many in the audience booed after the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ruled that the amendments was approved despite the fact that many delegates objected.

The party reinstated language from the 2008 platform that said "we need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

The Democrats even outdid their Republican opponents - the GOP platform refers to Jerusalem's status only in passing: "Two democratic states: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine, living in peace and security."

The platform now included what advisers said was Obama's personal views on Jerusalem.

Administration officials and DNC sources made a special effort to stress that President Obama was personally involved in restoring the 2008 platform language mentioning Jerusalem as a capital of Israel. The idea behind the original omission of Jerusalem was to make the platform reflect the actual policy of the administration toward Jerusalem, similar to the one held by the George W. Bush administration - that its status will be defined during the final status issues negotiations.

Former Representative Robert Wexler, President Obama's top surrogate on the Middle East issue, told Haaretz that the idea of omitting Jerusalem was meant to "create a platform of language focused on the vital issue of the day - the security threats to Israel," adding that the amendment also includes an "extensive section on the Iranian threat."

It created confusion and the President wisely said to fix it. There are no ifs and buts about Jerusalem, it was and is the capital of Israel," Wexler said.

When asked to comment on the Palestinian claim that the amendment will destroy the peace process, Wexler said that it is a "party document," and that the Palestinians will be "wise" to return to the negotiation table.

Abbas and Obama
AP / Bloomberg