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US senator: Jerusalem platform omission 'mistake'

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: One of President Barack Obama's top allies said Thursday that Democrats made a mistake when they omitted from the party platform a reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The reference was later restored.

"It's not that someone had a plan: 'Let's back off the long Democratic Party policy that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel," Sen. Chuck Schumer told The Associated Press a day after the reinstatement of the language caused dissension among delegates at the Democratic National Convention. "It was just sort of left out."

Told of the omission, Obama ordered the language to be restored, Schumer said.

The hurried effort to correct the document Wednesday underscored the Obama camp's desire to deny Romney any opening with Jewish voters and donors in the tight presidential race.

The vote on the convention floor caught many delegates off guard and inspired some to boo, exposing divisions in the party over U.S.-Israeli relations.

When the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, called for a voice vote, the ayes and nays were equally loud. He called for a second. The result was louder but still uncertain. Villaraigosa appeared to look for help from the sidelines and then called for yet another vote. He then declared the amendment passed.

The platform already contained language asserting an "enduring commitment to Israel's security." But Republican officials argued that not taking a position on Jerusalem's status in the party platform raised questions about Obama's support for the Mideast ally.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney, in an interview with Fox News before the changes were made, said omitting God "suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of the American people."

The platform changes added a declaration that Jerusalem "is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

Obama closes the convention Thursday night when he formally accepts his party's nomination for president.

 

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