US Democrats have dropped a reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel from their election platform, prompting scorn from rival Mitt Romney, just as President Barack Obama is preparing to accept his party's nomination for a second term.
Since 1992 Democrats have stated unequivocally that "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," as they did in 2008 when the party’s platform declared that "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel." It added, "The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations."
That language was not in their 2012 election document, which was presented at the party convention that began in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday.
Party officials did not respond to requests for comment on the reasons for the omission.
Israel considers Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided capital."
Thanks in large part to the influence of Jewish voters in key battleground states like Florida, relations with Israel are a hot button issue in US elections.
With 63 days until the polls, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney assailed the Democrats' removal from their platform of an "acknowledgment of a simple reality," and for hurting ties with a "cherished ally."
“It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama's shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital," he said in a statement.
As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to houlder with our close ally."
After a visit to Israel in July, Romney lambasted Obama over the same issue.
Democrat and Republican White Houses have long stated that Jerusalem's final status should be decided by negotiations between the two parties.
Most of the international community, including the United States, which maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.