Palestinians have accused Mitt Romney of violating international law and undermining peace prospects by calling Jerusalem “the capital of Israel”.
The US Republican presidential candidate made the comments during his visit to the city. In recognising Israel’s claim he broke ranks with the official US position and most of the international community.
“It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” he said to applause.
East Jerusalem was seized by Israel during the 1967 war but Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state. Most countries keep their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv.
“We are used to this irresponsible position by some of the American policymakers, that they put aside the rights and justice in order to gain votes,” said Abed Rabbo, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
The chief Palestinian negotiator in peace talks, Saeb Erekat, described the comment as “unacceptable”.
Mitt Romney is not the first US presidential candidates to describe Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Others include Barack Obama who did so in 2008 – backtracking after taking power and suggesting the issue be resolved by negotiations.