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Democrats Vote To Restore 2008 Platform Language On Jerusalem

What's usually a formality turned a bit dramatic today at the opening of the second day of the Democratic National Convention.

A motion for a voice vote to amend the party platform to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel — and to reinsert the word "God" into the document — was met with many delegates shouting "no" and with loud boos when the motion was deemed to have passed.

NPR's Liz Halloran, reporting from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, told us there was confusion on the floor. They couldn't tell whether the ayes had it, but on the third vote, convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa declared that the motion had passed with the support of two-thirds of those voting, and there were boos along with cheers.

The Los Angeles Times reported: "To many listeners, the voice vote seemed at least evenly divided."

When Democrats released their platform last night, they were immediately criticized for a shift in language on the issue of Israel. As CNN explained, the 2012 platform (PDF) did not declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In 2008, the language was clear. It read:

"Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

Democrats were also criticized for omitting any references to God.

"GOP challenger Mitt Romney said omitting a reference to God suggested Democrats were out of touch with mainstream America," the AP reports. "Republicans also said omitting a reference to Jerusalem showed Obama was weak on Israel."

Democrats introduced a change in the 2012 platform, as today's session got started. The change would introduce language similar to what was in the platform in 2008 on both issues.

As CNN reports it, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland introduced the changes right after the convention was gaveled into order.

"I am here to attest and affirm that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the values we've expressed in our party's platform," Strickland, said according to CNN. "In addition, President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party's platform should as well. "

Update at 7:10 p.m. ET. Obama Intervened Personally:

According to Politico and The Associated Press, President Obama intervened personally to demand the amendment to the platform.

Politico reports that when the president was notified of the Jerusalem change and omission of the word God, he wondered why they would make the change.

Update at 6:37 p.m. ET. Same Position Bush Had:

Politico adds a bit of background on the story:

"More substantively, the Democratic platform now puts the DNC in direct opposition to longstanding U.S. policy on Jerusalem.

"The United States has long declined to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, declaring that all "final status issues" should be left to final negotiations between the parties. President Obama promised in 2008 to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but hasn't acted on that promise. President Bush made the same promise and it was met with the same lack of action."

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed out much the same thing, defending the administration against Republican criticism.

"As President of the United States, the position on Jerusalem held by this administration, this President, is exactly the same position that Presidents and administrations have held since 1967 — Presidents of both parties, administrations of both parties," Carney said.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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