A Jerusalem-born American citizen on Friday became the first to receive a US passport listing “Israel” as his place of birth.
The move came just days before the US election, in which President Donald Trump has promoted his steadfast support of the Jewish state, a key cause for his evangelical Christian base.
“I’m humbled and honored to receive this passport,” said 18-year-old Menachem Zivitofsky during a ceremony at the US embassy.
Until now, Americans born in the city had simply “Jerusalem” listed in their passports, without specifying the country.
Israel seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in moves never recognized by the international community.
The Jewish state considers the city its undivided capital, but Palestinians see the mostly Arab eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City with its holy sites, as the illegally occupied capital of their future state.
In his first year in office, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and later moved the US embassy there -- putting the United States at odds with virtually every other country.
Zivitofsky has “waited a long time for this moment to come”, said US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman while presenting the passport. “Today... you have a nation of birth –- the state of Israel.”
The US had announced on Thursday that Jerusalem-born American citizens could now elect to list Israel as their place of birth on their passports but said the default would remain “Jerusalem”.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi slammed the move as an “attempt to erase Palestinians”.
“The US State Department’s new decision to allow the labelling of Jerusalem as part of Israel in official US documents is a falsification of the city’s history and identity,” Ashrawi said in a statement on Friday.
Until now, international consensus had been to list Jerusalem as “undefined” on official documents.
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