A long-standing point of contention between Israel and the US (one of the few that exists) is the fact that while Congress and the vast majority of American citizens recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, the White House refuses to do so.
The Obama Administration's position on Jerusalem took center stage this week when a State Department spokeswoman refused during a press briefing to accept that the city, even the non-contested and Jewish dominated western half, is the capital of Israel.
Early in the week, the Washington Free Beacon political blog discovered that a State Department communication posted online had identified "Jerusalem" and "Israel" as separate Middle East entities. Following that revelation, the State Department quickly altered the communique to list only cities and not countries.
At Wednesday's weekly press briefing, a reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland to comment on the issue, to which she replied, "Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem. ...That's all I have to say...”
But the reporter in question was not satisfied, and pressed Nuland, stating, "That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." Nuland still was not budging, so the reporter tried to "give her an out" by asking, "Is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think -- or is it just East Jerusalem?"
Nuland still refused to acknowledge that even the western side of Jerusalem, which has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1948, is the legitimate seat of Israel's government. The Weekly Standard transcribed the entire exchange at the press briefing.
The United States continues to maintain its embassy in Tel Aviv, despite a 1995 act of Congress that stipulated the American mission was to be moved to Jerusalem no later than 1999. Successive American presidents have consistently invoked "national security" powers to avoid implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act.
Israel is unfazed by the fresh commotion over the status of its capital, said an official [cited by the Times of Israel].
"Jerusalem is Israel’s capital by decision of the Knesset and nothing can change that,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor stated. “It’s our capital, no matter what anyone else is saying."