When the Democratic party adopted its 2012 platform earlier this week, it included new language regarding the party's collective stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict by stating "President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians" and claiming that a "just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Dropped from the section, however, was previous language that held Jerusalem as the recognized capital of Israel; a position championed by the pro-Israeli camp, but one that Palestinians and their supporters repeatedly claim undermines the so-called "peace process" by granting Israel dominion over a city illegally occupied under international law and their hopeful capital under a two-state solution.
Controversy broke out on the floor of the convention in Charlotte on Wednesday following a series of voice votes attempting to re-insert the language regarding the status of Jerusalem.
The language—dropped from the approved platform, but re-introduced Wednesday—stated that "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The 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 non-partisan American Arab Institute said the move to re-insert the old language "was a clear case of putting pandering above responsible politics."
"Not only is this change a knee-jerk reaction to baseless accusations from the far-right that the Democratic Party has 'thrown Israel under the bus',” said AAI in a statement, "it also flies in the face of decades of policy and the positions of President Obama, international peacemakers, and the American public at-large. Worse still, the vote was clearly forced through the delegation, despite considerable opposition on the floor."
As Al-Jazeera reports:
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To reinstate the language on Jerusalem, Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles mayor and Democratic convention chair, had to call for a voice vote three times on Wednesday and looked uncertain as to how to proceed when the "no" votes seemed to be louder.
Proposing the motion, Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor, said "faith and belief in God is central to the American story" and "President Obama recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well".
But when a voice vote was called, the "nays" appeared to match the "ayes".
"I -- I -- I guess, I'll do that one more time," Villaraigosa said.
Despite the second attempt leading to a similar response, he declared: "In the opinion of that chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative. The motion is adopted, and the platform has been amended."
That sparked a chorus of boos from the floor.
Campaign officials said the language change was ordered by President Barack Obama himself to reflect his own personal views.
AAI President Jim Zogby stated: “Having been through these battles many times, I am disappointed in the irregularities of the procedure. This effort hurts the president and it hurts chances for a lasting peace. I am, however, proud that so many delegates delivered a resounding no.”
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