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June 9, 2015
The US Supreme Court ruling on Monday that Americans born in Jerusalem could no longer list their country of birth as “Israel” in US passports had the Jewish state fuming, while the Palestinian Authority celebrated the decision as a justification of its narrative regarding the holy city.
The ruling invalidated a 13-year-old congressional law that stipulated Americans born in Jerusalem could list “Israel” as their country of birth. In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court determined that Congress had overstepped its authority in enacting the law, and had encroached on the President’s power to set foreign policy.
Justice Antonin Scalia, one of those to vote against the motion, said it was a “leap worthy of the Mad Hatter” to suggest that putting “Israel” on the passports of those born in Jerusalem would prejudge the outcome of Middle East peace talks.
The Israeli government issued no formal response to the ruling, but Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat noted that “just as Washington is the capital of the US, London is the capital of England, and Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem was and will always be the capital of Israel – but more than that, it’s the heart and soul of the Jewish nation.”
Israeli legal expert Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner told Arutz Sheva radio that the ruling was “a real kick in the face of every Israeli citizen, that such a great friend of Israel’s does not recognize its rights.”
But more than that, Darshan-Leitner warned that the Supreme Court had handed the White House and State Department a major victory in the battle over who sets the foreign policies of the United States.
While the overwhelming majority of Americans and their representatives in Congress are supportive of the Jewish state, the White House and State Department are typically seen as being much less so. Giving full authority over foreign relations to the administrative branch without allowing for checks and balances by the legislative could spell trouble for Israel.
Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Authority was thrilled with the ruling.
“The decision sends a clear message that Israel is an occupying power in East al-Quds (eastern Jerusalem), the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.