[Video below.] Jeff Rathke, the U.S. State Department’s director of press relations, appeared flustered on Monday when addressing a reporter’s question about the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
During the State Department’s daily press briefing, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Rathke to remind the gathered reporters what the U.S. considers to be the capital of Israel.
“Well, um, since, eh, to come to the, the, the, maybe the nub of the issue, since Israel’s founding, administrations of both parties have maintained a consistent policy of recognizing no state as having a sovereignty over Jerusalem,” he said. “Um, so we remain committed to this, to this long-standing policy and this decision today helps ensure that our position on the neutrality of Jerusalem remains clear.”
Rathke was referring to the Supreme Court decision on Monday that Congress overstepped its bounds in requiring the State Department to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passports.
Lee then pushed Rathke to clarify if the U.S. position applies to both east and west Jerusalem to which the latter replied, “Again, no change to our policy to announce.” Rathke added that the status of Jerusalem is among the issues that must be resolved in direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
When Lee then probed further on the issue, Rathke reiterated his previous remarks saying the government’s “consistent policy” is to refuse recognition of any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Watch Rathke answer questions about the status of Jerusalem in the video below: