US nationals born in Jerusalem can have their place of birth listed as “Israel” on their passports, according to the country’s top diplomat Thursday.
“Effective immediately, the State Department will allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to elect to list their place of birth as ‘Israel.’ Applicants born in Jerusalem will be able to request either ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘Israel’ as their place of birth on consular documents,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The US had refrained from listing on passports the country to which the city belongs because of its contested nature, but President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally extend US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017. The US has since moved its Israel Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
American citizens born in Jerusalem who do not specify their birth place for consular services applications as Israel will continue to be issued documents that indicate their birthplace as Jerusalem.
“Other guidance on listing of place of birth in Israel, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and the West Bank remains unchanged,” said the statement.
The looming decision to end the long-standing policy of listing the city simply as “Jerusalem” comes amid successive steps by Trump to bolster Israel’s claims to the city, which it claims to be its capital as Palestinians seek it for their future state.
Jerusalem’s status was to be determined as part of bilateral peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials under a plan that envisioned two states for two peoples, but the prospects for such a deal have been repeatedly undercut by Trump.
“As the President stated in his proclamation, the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its seat of government but continues to take no position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” said Pompeo. “This matter remains subject to final status negotiations between the two Parties.”
The move comes just five days before the US presidential election Nov. 3 in which Trump is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polls.
It would further solidify Trump’s support among his base — particularly Evangelical Christians, who are staunch supporters of Israel.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to the story
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