Updated at 10:00 pm ET
Faced with repeated questioning during today’s briefing about which city the United States recognizes as the capital of Jerusalem, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today appeared not to exactly remember U.S. policy, and instead of potentially creating an international uproar, dodged the question.
Instead of offering an answer, Carney repeatedly stated that U.S. policy had not changed.
Carney was careful because the answer is complicated, nuanced and fraught with danger, given the passions on both sides with respect to the status of the holy city.
In fact, while Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, the United States has declined to recognize Jerusalem as the capital, pending final status talks on the city between Palestinians and Israelis. A provision in legislation calling for the U.S. embassy to be moved from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been waived by U.S. presidents.
Questioned about the matter in March, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined to say Jerusalem was Israel’s capital, saying, “Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.”