China has warned Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney he risks inciting violence in the Middle East by saying the U.S. should acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.
"U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is likely to worsen the already tense Mideast situation, and even reignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis," a July 31 article on Xinhua, the official news site, stated.
"Romney's remarks totally neglect historical facts and are actually irresponsible if he just meant to appeal to voters at home," it added, saying, "The status of Jerusalem will not be resolved until a comprehensive solution is found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before that, any words that favor any party to the conflict regardless of history and reality are irresponsible and unfair for Palestinians who are in a less powerful position in the peace talks."
The article was released after Romney, while on a trip to Israel, said "my understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital [Jerusalem]."
Romney timed the visit and his remarks with the release of an ad campaign by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), urging Jewish American to rethink their vote in 2012. In the ad, Jewish American voter "Michael" states President Barack Obama's position on borders and his "disrespectful" treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as reasons for his "buyer's remorse."
The White House and State Department have since come out against Romney's Jerusalem remarks, in a rare moment of policy agreement with the Chinese government.
"It's the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties," White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.
"I'd remind you that that's the position that's been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. So if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he's also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan."
State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland echoed this statement, adding, "since 1967, administrations of both parties have had the same position, which is that the status of Jerusalem has to be solved through negotiations. So that is the position of the Administration."
But Romney's remarks, made during a presidential campaign, are not unusual. Regardless of Bill Clinton's stance once he became president, on the campaign trail in 1992 he said, "I recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city, the eternal capital of Israel, and I believe in the principle of moving our embassy to Jerusalem."
Likewise, in 2008, advisor to then Senator Barack Obama Dennis Ross made the same statements, saying "The fact of the matter is, Jerusalem is Israel's capital. That's a fact. It's also a fact that the city should not be divided again."
But the Chinese did not acknowledge this precedent, simply warning against any rhetoric from either side on the issue of Jerusalem and adding that threats made to Iran were not helpful, either.
"Romney has delivered a series of hawkish remarks [pledging] to 'employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course'...On these key issues, every serious politician should watch out for his or her words, especially those from the United States," the Xinhua piece concluded.
by RTT Staff Writer
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