Court Rules No 'Jerusalem, Israel' on Passport

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A U.S. appeals court struck down a law allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel on their passports.

The ruling effectively supports the State Department's refusal to enforce the law because it violates the Constitutionally mandated separation of the executive and legislative branches.

In 2002, Congress passed a law allowing Americans born in Jerusalem to choose whether their passports showed they were born in Israel.

Former President George W. Bush signed the bill into law because it left the choice up to the individual.

The appeals court ruling stated that the president "exclusively" determines "whether to recognize a foreign sovereign."

Neither Bush nor President Obama were willing to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying its status will be determined in a future peace deal.

The three-judge panel agreed, saying the law "runs headlong into a carefully calibrated and longstanding Executive branch policy of neutrality toward Jerusalem."

In 2003, the parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, born in Jerusalem in 2002, filed a lawsuit on behalf of their son.

Attorneys for the now 11-year-old say they will appeal the ruling as they did in 2009 when an appeals court dismissed the case.

"We hope that before Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky's Bar Mitzvah [at age 13], he will be able to bear a passport that recognizes his birthplace as Israel," his attorneys said.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled the case could continue in the courts despite its political overtones. In light of Tuesday's ruling, the family intends to approach the Supreme Court again for its opinion.

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