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White House says status of Jerusalem to be decided by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

(Xinhua)

08:13, July 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Monday that the status of Jerusalem should be settled through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Commenting on the recent assertion by Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated: "It's the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

"I'd remind you that that's the position that's been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican," Earnest told reporters here at a regular news briefing.

"So, you know, 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," he added.

Romney, with Jewish voters at home on his mind as he faces President Barack Obama in the November presidential election, stated on Sunday that "it is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."

His position drew immediate criticism from the Palestinian side. The Palestinians want to establish a country with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, but the United States and most other countries have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.

While in Israel, Romney also suggested that he would move the U. S. embassy to Jerusalem if he were president.

The status of Jerusalem, borders, security and refugees are among the core issues facing the Palestinians and the Israelis in their decades-old peace process.

Direct negotiations between the two sides broke down only weeks after being relaunched in Washington D.C. in early September of 2010, as Israel refused to suspend settlement building in the West Bank.

The current foreign trip has taken Romney to Britain and will take him to Poland, a journey with which he aims to burnish his foreign policy credentials.

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