Several pro-Israel sections of the 2008 Democratic Party platform have been removed from the 2012 platform—on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas. The new platform represents another shift by the Obama Democrats toward the Palestinian position on key issues in the peace process.
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration's policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths." The Obama administration's refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.
On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian "refugees" should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.
The 2004 platform: "The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel."
The 2008 platform: The peace process "should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel."
The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.
Previously, Obama has incorporated the Palestinian positions on Jerusalem and borders into his administration's policies. It appears that with his party's new platform, he is also doing so with refugees.
Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, "The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and abides by past agreements."
The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.
Previous platforms also contained promises to maintain Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the region. The 2008 platform, for example, spoke of a "commitment which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense." The 2012 platform mentions only that "[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region," with no commitment to doing so in the future.
UPDATE (2:39 p.m.): Mitt Romney released a statement Tuesday afternoon, criticizing the Democratic platform for removing the Jerusalem language:
"It is 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. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally."