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Photo: AP
Menachem Zivotofsky
Photo: AP
Family at center of Jerusalem passport battle: We're disappointed, but we tried
Zivotofskys' 12-year legal battle ended Monday, with Supreme Court ruling that their son cannot register his place of birth as 'Jerusalem, Israel'.

The parents of an Israeli American boy who fought for years against a ban on Americans born in Jerusalem listing their birthplace as "Jerusalem, Israel" in their US passports have expressed disappointment at a US Supreme Court decision to uphold the prohibition.

 

"We are disappointed. Menachem is also disappointed. But you can't say we didn’t try," said Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky.

 

 

The US Supreme Court rejected the petition by a vote of 6 to 3, in the case the family brought against the State Department.

 

The Obama administration expressed content with the decision, which places the power to make foreign policy decisions in the hands of the president and not Congress, including the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

 

The appeal by Ari and Noami Zivotofsky was based on congressional legislation from 2002, which stated that Americans born in Jerusalem would be recognized as Israeli-born. Current estimates put the number of Americans born in Jerusalem at around 50,000.

 

 

Menachem Zivotofsky and his father at the Supreme Court in Washington DC. (Photo:AP)
Menachem Zivotofsky and his father at the Supreme Court in Washington DC. (Photo:AP)

 

In response to the ruling, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke expressed satisfaction at the decision.

 

"It’s an important decision," he said. "When the administration’s arguments are basically upheld by the decision – (we're) pleased by that, but not doing a victory dance."  

 

The ruling represents a victory for the Obama administration, given ongoing efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bypass the president through Congress on the Iran issue.

 

 "The court's decision...confirms the long-established authority of the president over the conduct of diplomacy and foreign policy," Rathke added.

 

The US Supreme Court, Washington DC (Photo: AFP)
The US Supreme Court, Washington DC (Photo: AFP)

 

The spokesman pointed out that since the establishment of the State of Israel, governments from both sides of the aisle have maintained a steady policy of not recognizing any state's sovereignty over Jerusalem, until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is settled.

 

"We remain committed to this longstanding policy, and this decision today helps ensure that our position on the neutrality of Jerusalem remains – it remains clear," Rathke continued.

 

In 1955, the US Congress passed a resolution to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and even allocated funds for the move; however, every American president since has suspended the decision on the grounds of US national security.

 

Menachem was born a short time after the 2002 legislation was passed; his parents, who reside in Beit Shemesh, immediately began a persistent campaign to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as his place of birth on his US passport.

  

The US has long maintained a 'neutral' stance on Jerusalem. (Photo:Reuters)
The US has long maintained a 'neutral' stance on Jerusalem. (Photo:Reuters)

 

"We are very surprised, we thought that it would be the opposite. We understood from the justice's questions in the November hearing that they supported our lawyer's argument, but sadly the court ruled otherwise. Menachem is also disappointed, but you can't say we didn’t try," Ari Zivotofsky said.

 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat said that: "As Washington is the capital of Israel, London is the capital of England, and Paris the capital of France - Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, but even more so the heart and soul of the Jewish people. Especially during these days, when anti-Semites are raising their heads, and BDS supports the Hamas goal of destroying Israel, we expect the US to strengthen Israel and recognize Jerusalem as our capital.

 

Veteran Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat commented: "This is an important decision, which sends a message to the Israeli government that its decision to occupy and annex Jerusalem is illegal, and against international law."

 

 

 

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