Democrats reinstate "God" and Jerusalem language in party platform

President Obama signs the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 in the Oval Office, July 27, 2012. CBS News/Mark Knoller

Updated 6:40 p.m. ET

(CBS News)  CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After sharp criticism from Mitt Romney and Republicans, the Democrats have reinstated language into their party platform that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well as the words "God-given" in a passage about employment, both of which were removed in this year's platform.

The platform released by Democrats Monday evening dropped a clause included in the 2008 platform that read: "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel." That platform went on to say, however, that "[t]he parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."

CBS News has confirmed that President Obama personally intervened to have the platform language changed.

"The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008," Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "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."

Israel maintains that its capital is Jerusalem, but the United States and other nations maintain embassies in Tel Aviv because East Jerusalem is contested by the Palestinians, who see it as a potential capital for their state.

Romney called Jerusalem "the capital of Israel" in July, prompting criticism from the Palestinians as well as China. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the comment "absolutely unacceptable."

But as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said in 2008 that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," though he later softened his stance and said he is not trying to "predetermine" the final status of the city. As president, he has maintained that, as his campaign put it to CBS News, "the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

Romney said in a statement Tuesday that it's "unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama's shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."

"Four years of President Obama's repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality," he said. "As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally."

Romney: Democrats "shameful" for omitting Jerusalem from platform

Meantime, the word "God" was dropped from a paragraph that, in 2008, spoke of giving those willing to work the opportunity to "make the most of their God-given potential." In this year's platform a similar paragraph reads "the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us."

In an interview with Fox News Correspondent Carl Cameron, Romney voiced his disappointment.

"I think their having removed purposefully God from their platform suggests a party that is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people," Romney said in the televised interview. "I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don't recognize."

The convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, had to take a voice vote three times, as the number of "nays" shouted was unexpected.  After declaring the changes passed, a chorus of boos could be heard from delegates in the Time Warner Center Arena.

CBS News' Caroline Horn contributed to this report.

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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