Rep. Paul Ryan on Wednesday called it “tragic” that Democrats removed language from their official party platform that calls Jerusalem the capital of Israel and failed to mention God anywhere in the document.
The platform released by Democrats dropped a clause included in the 2008 version that read: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."
“This is tragic,” Ryan said on Fox News’ Fox & Friends. “First of all, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” Israel's government maintains that its capital is Jerusalem, but the United States and other nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because East Jerusalem is contested by the Palestinians, who regard it as a potential capital for their state.
On Tuesday, Mitt Romney called the omission "shameful."
Ryan continued: “What is so tragic about this is that this is one of the few issues where the Republican Party and the Democratic Party agreed. Our two party platforms were emphatic about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.” He added: “For the Obama administration to remove this language from the Democratic Party platform drives a wedge into one of the few issues that our two parties agreed on.”
He said the omission “undermines our nation’s support for our ally, Israel.”
Democrats were on the defensive on the issue Wednesday. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on CBS's This Morning said that the vast majority of Democrats support Jerusalem being the unified capital, calling the matter a "tempest in a teapot," adding: "I don't know why it's in or not in." He also said he did not know President Obama's position on the matter.
Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and Obama’s former chief of staff, on ABC's Good Morning America called the Israel issue a “red herring” but said he was not involved in writing the platform.
Ryan, speaking on the lack of the word ‘God’ in the Democrats’ platform, said of Republicans that “we believe that our rights come from nature and God and not from government.” He added: “And so, to see this kind of language, this acknowledgement removed from their party platform is really kind of disappointing, tragic.”
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended the decision. “We have a platform that actually reflects the values of many faith traditions,” she said on CNN Tuesday night. When asked whether it was deliberately removed – “God” was mentioned once in the 2008 platform – she said, “I can assure you that no one has deliberately taken God out of our platform.”