Israel may have been recognized back in 1948, but that doesn’t mean it will show up on US passports for those born in Jerusalem anytime soon. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Americans born in Jerusalem cannot have their passports changed to say “Israel,” according to USA Today. The ruling sided with the President yet went against Congress.
Why It Matters
The June 8 Supreme Court decision is a monumental one for several reasons.
- The status of Jerusalem has been a major point of contention between the Israelis and Palestinians since Israel was recognized in 1948.
- A State Department manual explains US policy, which is to only list “Jerusalem” for those born in Jerusalem.
- A 2002 foreign relations law signed by President George W. Bush featured a section that said Americans born in Jerusalem could upon their request have their passport birthplace listed as Israel (although Bush noted he would ignore the provision as unconstitutional).
- The Obama administration agreed with Bush that the provision is unconstitutional, a view that should be upheld if indeed the Executive branch of the government is the one to decide what foreign states are recognized by the US.
- Ruling in favor of the provision, and against the presidential administration and US policy, would have diluted the Executive branch’s power in being the only entity allowed to recognize foreign states.
What Prompted the Issue
The issue made it all the way to the Supreme Court as a culmination of efforts from the parents of a 12-year-old boy born in Jerusalem. Since 2002, the parents have been arguing the boy’s passport should be changed to indicate he was born in Israel. Their argument snaked its way through several court systems before ultimately landing in the nation’s uppermost courthouse.
What It Means for Travelers
The Department of State website has extensive travel warnings for those visiting Israel and the surrounding areas of Gaza and The West Bank and Gaza, with the initial warnings issued back in February. Political tensions are high, as are the levels of violence, risk and volatility. Travelers with Jerusalem listed as their birthplace may be faced with additional risks due to their association with the region.
If you have any questions or need more information on any aspect of travel, please don’t hesitate to contact Swift Passport and Visa Services.