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US top court to hear Jerusalem passport dispute

US top court to hear Jerusalem passport dispute

37 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear an appeal over whether an American born in Jerusalem can list Israel as his place of birth in his passport.

Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky filed a lawsuit in 2004 after State Department officials refused to list Israel as their son Menachem’s birthplace, citing long-standing US policy to avoid any official statement on the thorny issue of Jerusalem’s status, a key concern in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Instead, the birth certificate indicates the boy was born in Jerusalem in 2002.

If Menachem had been born in Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities, his passport would indicate Israel as his place of birth. Under usual practices, US authorities list a country, not a city, as a place of birth.

While Israel has declared Jerusalem its capital, the United States has joined a majority of nations in refraining from recognizing that status for the holy city that Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

Menachem was born shortly after then president George W. Bush signed a lengthy foreign affairs bill with a measure that “directs the secretary of state to identify a United States citizen born in Jerusalem upon the citizen’s request, as born in ‘Israel’ on a passport or a consular report of birth abroad.”

But in ratifying the treaty, Bush also cautioned that the directive “impermissibly interferes” with the president’s authority to direct and formulate US foreign policy.

In urging the court to decline to take up the case, the State Department noted that “the status of Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive and long-standing disputes in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Any US action to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process, to bring an end to violence in Israel and the occupied territories and to achieve progress in the Roadmap” for peace, it added.

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