Romney campaign uses Cantor hitting White House on Israeli capital

Mitt Romney’s campaign circulated a statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Friday slamming the White House over Press Secretary Jay Carney’s answers to questions about Jerusalem at Thursday’s press briefing.

The controversy centers around the status of Jerusalem as a capital city. Although Israel’s government and some countries recognize the city as the capital of the Jewish state, most countries — including the United States — do not officially acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital, so as to not choose sides in land disputes between Israel and Palestine.

{mosads}In the press briefing Friday, Carney was asked by a reporter what city the administration considers to be the capital of Israel — Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, where the U.S. embassy is located.

“Our position has not changed,” Carney said.

After the reporter asked what the position was, Carney responded, “you know our position.”

When reporters protested that they did not know the position of the administration, Carney dismissed the questions by repeating that the government’s stance was established, moving on to other questions.

In the transcript of the briefing later circulated to reporters, the White House included an addendum outlining the official policy.

“The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said. “We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Cantor mocked Carney’s evasiveness in the statement circulated by the Romney campaign.

“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. “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.”

That’s prompted speculation that Romney could call for the United States to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital during his visit to over the weekend — something the candidate has not yet done. During the primaries, Romney was criticized by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul for not explicitly calling the city Israel’s capital.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier Friday, President Obama signed a new law that would increase military cooperation with Israel and offer $70 million toward the country’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

“I have made it a top priority for my administration to deepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues — intelligence, military, technology,” Obama said at a White House signing ceremony. “And, in many ways, what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen, really, at an unprecedented level between our two countries that underscore our unshakable commitment to Israel security.”

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