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State Dept. Spokesman Refuses to Say Whether Jerusalem Is the Capital of Israel

4:02 PM, Mar 28, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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There was an amazing exchange today at the State Department press briefing when the press secretary refused to say that Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel. “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem,” State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said in response the question.

When pressed further, Nuland stood her ground. “Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations.  That's all I have to say on this issue,” said Nuland.

Later, an apparently irritated spokesman again repeated her commitment not to answer the simple question. “I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject,” said Nuland. “OK?”

The questions were regarding this Washington Free Beacon story that highlighted the State Department's refusal to list Jerusalem as part of Israel.

Here's video of the exchange:

And here’s the transcript of the exchange:  

Q:  Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss. Is it the State Department's position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel? 

MS. NULAND:  Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed.  The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances.  We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for -- our -- Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue.  It's got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.

Q:  Is it the view of the -- of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy -- the location of the U.S. embassy?

MS. NULAND:  We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.

Q:  Does that -- does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue.  It's got to be resolved through negotiations.

Q:  That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Is that correct or not?

MS. NULAND:  I have just spoken to this issue --

Q:  (Inaudible.)

MS. NULAND:  -- and I have nothing further to say on it.

Q:  You've spoken to the issue --

MS. NULAND:  Yeah.

Q:  -- but (haven't answered ?) the question.  And I think there's a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying -- and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.

MS. NULAND:  That is our --

Q:  What is the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations.  That's all I have to say on this issue.

Q:  What is the capital of Israel according --

MS. NULAND:  Our embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.

Q:  So does that mean you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?

MS. NULAND:  The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.

....

Q: I just want to go back to -- I want to clarify something, perhaps give you an "out" on your Jerusalem answer.  Is it your -- is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think -- or is it just East Jerusalem?

MS. NULAND:  Matt, I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject. OK? 

Q:  All right.  So hold on.  So I just want to make sure.  You're saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.

MS. NULAND:  Matt, I don't have anything further on Jerusalem to what I've already said.

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