A 12-year old Jewish boy in the United States caused President Obama a diplomatic headache this week, as he asked the Supreme Court to rule on his passport and therefore on the status of Jerusalem.
US citizen Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in the holy city, wants the country’s top court to allow him to mark his identity as “Israeli” despite diplomats’ worrying that the legal nod would endorse Israel’s hotly-disputed sovereignty claim on Jerusalem.
The long-running case was instigated by Menachem’s parents, Ari and Naomi, who sued on behalf of their then-baby son in 2003. The law was enacted by Congress, but challenged by successive White House administrations.
Judges will now consider whether the law is unconstitutional because it infringes on the president’s exclusive right to recognise a foreign nation, and under what terms.
The State Department says it would be perceived around the world as a reversal of American policy that could cause “irreversible damage” to the government’s power to influence the peace process.
Several US Jewish groups have bankrolled the Zivotofsky suit, but others say it discriminates against Americans of Palestinian heritage because it does not allow them to list ‘Palestine’ as their place of birth.