Schumer: ‘I Didn’t Know’ Jerusalem Language Wasn’t in Platform

National Journal

As Republicans seized on Thursday on the issue of Democratic Party platform language that omitted mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said he was blindsided by the original move, but commended President Obama for acting to put it back in.

Israel's government maintains that its capital is Jerusalem, but the United States and other nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because East Jerusalem is contested by the Palestinians, who regard it as a potential capital for their state.

“I didn’t know it wasn’t in,” Schumer, one of the Democratic Party's most prominent Jewish members, said on CNN’s Starting Point, “I don’t read the whole huge document.” He added, more than once for emphasis: “But it was the president who intervened and fixed it.”

A chaotic meeting at the convention on Wednesday led to boos from delegates over changes that inserted the Jersusalem language back into the platform. In 2008, the party platform declared: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."

When asked if the omission seemed like an intentional act that should have been caught, Schumer replied: “Perhaps,” but added that bigger “existential threats” to Israel, like Iran and Hezbollah, were of more concern. Said Schumer of Obama, “He’s been tougher on Iran than anyone.”

Republicans pointed reporters to discord within the Democratic Party over the fight, accusing the Obama administration of waffling over the Jerusalem-as-capital issue.

"The questions over the Democrat platform haven’t stopped this morning and are overtaking any message [former President Bill] Clinton had last night," the Republican National Committee said in an email.

Appearing later on CNN, an embattled Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to dismiss the exclusion of Jerusalem as a “technical omission.”

“Through the drafting process and the platform committee process, there was never any discussion or debate or commentary over adding or subtracting it,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman Schultz refuted the allegation that the wording was changed in response to backlash from the media and within the party, and said she supported the original platform as well as the second.

“On Tuesday, we adopted a 100 percent pro-Israel platform that I was so proud to support,” she said.

 

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