US & Canada

US Supreme Court hears case of boy born in Jerusalem

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem 6 November 2011
Image caption The White House says taking a stance on Jerusalem's status may stir anger in the Arab world

The case of an American-Israeli couple who want the US to recognise their Jerusalem-born son's place of birth as Israel has reached the Supreme Court.

Menachem Zivotofsky's US passport lists Jerusalem as his birthplace, but his country of birth has been left blank.

The Zivotofsky family sued the state department shortly after their son was born in October 2002.

The status of Jerusalem is highly contentious, as the city is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.

Naomi and Ari Zivotofsky and their son, now nine years old, have flown from Israel to attend Monday's hearing at the Supreme Court.

Thirty-nine Democratic and Republican members of Congress have backed the family.

They cite a provision in a 2002 law, the Foreign Relations Authorisation Act, allowing Israel to be listed as the birthplace for Americans born in Jerusalem.

But former President George W Bush overrode that provision, saying it interfered with his authority over foreign affairs.

The Obama administration says it does not want to appear to take sides on the status of Jerusalem.

State department guidelines say: "For a person born in Jerusalem, write Jerusalem as the place of birth in the passport."

However, the Zivotofsky family have pointed to official documents from federal agencies that refer to "Jerusalem, Israel".

They also argue that in the part of Jerusalem where their son was born - in the west of the city - there is no serious dispute over Israeli sovereignty.

Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1950 has not been recognised by the majority of the international community.

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