US passports to list 'Israel' for birth in Jerusalem
The United States said Thursday that its citizens born in Jerusalem will be able to list Israel as their place of birth, after President Donald Trump recognized the contested holy city as the Jewish state's capital.
Until now, Americans born in the city had simply "Jerusalem" listed in their passports without specifying the country.
Effectively immediately, Jerusalem-born Americans can elect to state Israel but otherwise their passports would still say only Jerusalem -- an option sure to be preferred by many from the city's predominantly Palestinian eastern part.
The announcement comes days before the presidential election in which Trump has promoted his steadfast support of Israel, a key cause for his evangelical Christian base.
In his first year in office, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and later moved the US embassy there -- putting the United States at odds with virtually every other country.
"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," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said as he announced the passport changes.
"This matter remains subject to final status negotiations between the two parties."
The Palestinian leadership has refused to accept diplomacy by the Trump administration, calling it biased toward Israel.
Since September, the Trump administration has secured breakthroughs as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan agreed to normalise relations with Israel despite the lack of a peace deal with Palestine.
The latest agreements broke with years of Arab League policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and were condemned by Ramallah as a "betrayal" and a "stab in the back".
In 2002, the Arab League adopted a Saudi proposal offering Israel normalisation only in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from these territories, which it captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, as well a just solution for Palestinian refugees.
This plan, known as the Arab Peace Initiative, has been pushed aside by the US administration, which in January unveiled the much-condemned "Deal of the Century" peace plan which allows Israel to annex large swathes of the occupied West Bank.
Under Trump's deal, Palestinians would settle for a limited, demilitarized state with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which would remain under full Israeli sovereignty.
The UAE claimed that its normalisation deal put Israel's annexation plan on hold but Israel retorted that any delay would be short-lived and its annexation plans remained on the table. Text of the normalisation deal with the UAE made no mention of the annexation plans.