In statement issued this week, State Department spokeswoman listed a U.S. diplomat’s travel destinations as ‘Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel’ – drawing fire from conservative reporters.
The status of Jerusalem has long been a controversial issue – even in the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland echoed that fact this week while answering a question about Israel’s capital.
Earlier this week, the Department of State issued a routine statement announcing the visit of the Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Kathleen Stephens to the Middle East. The statement said that Stephens was “to meet with a broad cross-section of government officials, students, NGOs, and exchange program alumni”.
And then the release mentioned her points of destination: “Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel.” The conservative reporters were quick to point out that the U.S. Administration “seemed to define Jerusalem and Israel as two separate entities.”
The Washington Free Beacon’s reporter Adam Kredo quoted a senior GOP aide who said that, “President Obama’s administration reminds Jewish voters why he cannot be trusted when it comes to Israel’s security. He doesn’t think Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Is it its own sovereign nation?”
Later, the Department of State issued another release, without commenting on the first one, this time mentioning Stephen’s destination as “Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv” – still a bit awkward. In Jerusalem, Stephens will meet with Foreign Ministry officials, participate in “round table discussions with students at An Najah University and Palestinian media, and visit the America House,” while in Tel Aviv she’ll meet with civil society leaders and exchange program alumni.
On Wednesday, the Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland provided some explanations.
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