The White House, in an escalation of a closely-watched case the Supreme Court is preparing to hear on whether Congress or the President gets to decide American policy in respect of passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem, has quietly altered its website to remove the references to Jerusalem being in “Israel.”So now, Obama's administration is trying to avoid any responsibility by tossing out the pictures of Biden on his trip to Israel as a way of showing more disrespect for US citizens from Jerusalem who want Israel listed on their passports. I think this is something Congress should address as well, because the current policy the White House is running - politicizing the whole matter of Jerusalem - is simply ludicrous.
The references to Jerusalem had appeared in the cutlines of photographs on the White House Web site illustrating an account of the vice president’s trip to Jerusalem last year. The references to ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ were first disclosed in The New York Sun’s dispatch last week on Zivotofsky v. Clinton. The case asks the high court to rule on the constitutionality of the 2002 law that gives American citizens born in Jerusalem the right to have “Israel” entered on their passports as their place of birth.
The Sun’s report was titled “Jerusalem Case at Supreme Court May Pit White House Web Site Against the President,” and noted that the pictures might be pivotal evidence contradicting the administration’s claim that the 2002 law impermissibly infringes the President’s power to “recognize foreign sovereigns.” Since the White House had effectively acknowledged on its own website that Jerusalem is in Israel, as have other executive branch agencies, the report suggested there might not really be a constitutional issue in giving Zivotofsky a statutory right to have that fact noted on his passport.
Yesterday afternoon Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard posted one of the pictures, noting the reference to “Jerusalem, Israel” and contrasting it with the State Department press release issued earlier in the day stating the current administration policy to prohibit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem from having “Israel” designated in their passports. The Halper posting went up at at 3:22 p.m. Less than three hours later, at 5:36 p.m. Halper noted that, at some time after he posted the picture, the White House had “apparently gone through its website, cleansing any reference to Jerusalem as being in Israel, including the pictures of Biden there last year.”
Throughout the past year-and-a-half that the pictures have been on the website, no one thought the captions affected the president’s constitutional powers, but rather simply noted the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It may be the subject of future final status negotiations, if final status negotiations ever resume. But currently it is within Israel, and in particular no one expects control of West Jerusalem, where Master Zivotofsky was born, ever to change.
Update: The Blaze has more on the story.