The White House refused to name the capital of Israel today – not once, but twice – as the two most senior White House correspondents cornered Obama’s press secretary, doggedly questioning him on whether the Obama administration considered Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to be the capital of the Jewish state.
White House press secretary Jay Carney publicly snubbed Connie Lawn of USA Radio Network and WND’s Les Kinsolving as they questioned him.
The exchange began with a question from Lawn, the most senior reporter on the beat.
The White House transcript reveals the exchange went like this:
CARNEY: Yes, Connie.
Q. What city does this administration consider to be the capital of Israel – Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?
CARNEY: I haven’t had that question in a while. Our position has not changed, Connie.
Q. What is the position? What’s the capital?
CARNEY: You know our position.
Q. I don’t.
Q. (Kinsolving joins.) No, no, she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know. That’s why she asked.
CARNEY: She does know –
Q. I don’t.
Q. (Kinsolving) She does not know. She just said she doesn’t know. I don’t know.
CARNEY: We have long – Les, I call on Christi. Go ahead.
Q. Back on the question of gun violence. Why did the president wait? What’s the reason for the venue and the timing of those remarks?
CARNEY: The remarks last night? Well, it was a very appropriate venue – it was the Urban League Conference. He talked about a number of issues, especially the economy, as well as the problem of violence in urban communities.
Q. But those were his most extensive and impassioned remarks, and I just wondered if he’s planning to do that in a more noticeable venue at a more noticeable time.
CARNEY:You mean a speech in front of a vast audience with television cameras is not more noticeable?
Q. Late at night, it was five days later –
CARNEY: Well, we didn’t schedule – we didn’t organize the conference. It was a very appropriate place to have that conversation.
Q. (Kinsolving) Tel Aviv or Jerusalem?
CARNEY: You know the answer.
Q. (Kinsolving) No, I don’t know the answer. We don’t know the answer. Could you just give us an answer? What do you recognize – what does –
CARNEY: Our position hasn’t changed, Lester.
Kinsolving is right behind Lawn in seniority among White House reporters.
Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND, applauded Kinsolving’s efforts to extract an answer from the White House.
“WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving doesn’t get the respect he deserves among his colleagues or in the Obama administration,” Farah said. “But this demonstrates the vital public service he provides by being there – even though he is seldom called upon by people like the clueless Carney.
He added, “Let’s face it. Nobody knows what the administration’s position is on a simple matter of which city the U.S. recognizes as the capital of Israel – including the White House spokesman. But Kinsolving wouldn’t let him dodge this bullet. By his dogged persistence, he demonstrated to the entire world this administration is like a rudderless ship.”
The issue of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has surfaced periodically as Palestinians often refuse to acknowledge the city’s status.
Most recently, WND reported that the issue arose at the London Olympics.
There, saying that the Games should not be distorted by politics, the chief of an international litigation and policy organization is calling on the British Broadcasting Corp. to make corrections in its website – where Palestine is described as having its “intended capital” in East Jerusalem.
At the same time, the Israeli page notes that there is no “capital” but that its “seat of government” is in Jerusalem.
“Since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel, Jerusalem has played a key role in the government, culture, religion and history of the Jewish nation,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city. The BBC should list this fact on its Olympics website, like it has done for every other country.
“The Olympics should transcend politics,” said Staver, whose organization is dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
The BBC site notes that for Israel, “most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.” But for Palestine, which is not a nation, the BBC announces the “intended seat of government” is East Jerusalem.
“Palestine is recognized as a competing country by the IOC but is not recognized as a modern state,” the site added.
According to Liberty Counsel, Mark Regrev, adviser of foreign press and public affairs at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau, described the statements as “discrimination” in a letter to Paul Danahar, BBC Middle East bureau chief.
Before Israel’s protest, Liberty Counsel documented, the BBC website listed Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and omitted Jerusalem as the capital for Israel. While the photos identifying Iran, Syria and Libya depicted peaceful cultural scenes, the picture for Israel depicted an Israeli soldier confronting a protester.
“Following several letters from Mr. Regev, the BBC modified the website to list Jerusalem as the ‘Seat of government’ for Israel and Jerusalem as the ‘Intended seat of government’ for ‘Palestine.’ These changes are still not sufficient,” Liberty Counsel said.
“We cannot accept those who deny our history, our sovereignty, and our right to determine our own capital,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “Irrespective of the BBC’s political agenda, Jerusalem is, was, and always will be the capital of Israel.”