US passports to list 'Israel' for Americans born in Jerusalem

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States said on Thursday (Oct 29) that its citizens born in Jerusalem will be able to list Israel as their place of birth, after US President Donald Trump recognised the contested holy city as the Jewish state’s capital.

Until now, Americans born in the city had simply “Jerusalem” listed in their passports without specifying the country.

Effectively immediately, Jerusalem-born Americans can elect to state Israel but otherwise their passports would still say only Jerusalem – an option sure to be preferred by many from the city’s predominantly Palestinian eastern part.

The announcement comes days before the presidential election, in which Mr Trump has promoted his steadfast support of Israel, a key cause for his evangelical Christian base.

In his first year in office, Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moved the US embassy there – putting the United States at odds with virtually every other country.

“The United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its seat of government but continues to take no position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said as he announced the passport changes.

“This matter remains subject to final status negotiations between the two parties.”

The Palestinian leadership has refused to accept diplomacy by the Trump administration, calling it biased towards Israel.

Since September, the Trump administration has secured breakthroughs as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan agreed to recognize Israel despite the lack of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Under a plan proposed earlier this year by Mr Trump, the Palestinians would enjoy a limited, demilitarised state with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which would remain under full Israeli sovereignty.

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