Who owns Jerusalem? That has been a persistent argument among Israelis, Palestinians, Congress and the U. S. President for decades. In early June 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the U. S. President decides foreign policy, including America’s stance toward the ownership of Jerusalem.
Since the “Six-Day War” of 1967, Israel has controlled the entire city of Jerusalem, which it claims as the eternal capital. Palestinians, who have argued and fought for existence as an independent state, claim that east Jerusalem will be their capital. Meanwhile, the United States’ foreign policy does not recognize the sovereignty of any nation over Jerusalem, relying on the parties’ negotiations to settle that matter.
Congress, which has pushed for Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem for years, passed a law in 2002 allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth. Though President George W. Bush signed the bill into law, he stressed that “U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed”; consequently, the law was never enforced.
Enter American Menachem Zivotofsky, born in Jerusalem to U. S. citizens and wishing to enter Israel as his place of birth. Zivotofsky sued 12 years ago and the matter finally reached the U. S. Supreme Court.
Voting 6-3, the 3 liberal justices and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who tends to be the swing vote on a number of issues, sided with the Presidential power, stating, “Recognition is a matter on which the nation must speak with one voice. That voice is the president’s.” Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the decision but on more restrictive grounds.
In a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Roberts and Alito, Justice Scalia argued that the U. S. Constitution “divides responsibility for foreign affairs between Congress and the president.”
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