By Russell Berman - 07/29/12 07:55 PM EDT
Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said he would seek to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv as president if the Israeli government ascents.
"A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said in an interview on CNN, conducted in Jerusalem. "I think it's long been the policy to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital of Jerusalem."
Romney gave several televised interviews and delivered a speech in Jerusalem during a trip to Israel aimed at emphasizing his ties to the close U.S. ally and boosting his support among Jewish Americans and supporters of Israel.
During a separate speech, Romney made a point of referring to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Its status is a critical point of contention in the long-running dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. As a result, recent U.S. presidential administrations have avoided the question and maintained the U.S. embassy presence in Tel Aviv, despite a 1995 law that declares Jerusalem to be the capital.
On Friday, the Romney campaign circulated a statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticizing White House press secretary Jay Carney over his answers to questions about the status of Jerusalem.
During a press priefing last week, Carney was asked by a reporter what city the administration considers to be the capital of Israel. “Our position has not changed,” Carney responded,
"For thousands of years, Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people, but this administration refuses to say if Jerusalem is the true capital," Cantor said in his statement. "At a moment when Israel is facing so many perils, the United States should be standing by our ally, not quibbling or quarreling about its capital city.”