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Is Jerusalem in Israel? Supreme Court to Weigh In

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Image: Ari Zivotofsky, right, stands with his son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court
Ari Zivotofsky, right, stands with his son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Nov. 7, 2011.Evan Vucci / AP, file

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is taking its second look at a dispute over the wording of U.S. passports for Americans born in Jerusalem, a case with potential foreign policy implications in the volatile Middle East.

The justices are hearing arguments Monday in a lawsuit filed by the parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, an American who was born in Jerusalem in 2002. The family is invoking a law passed just before the boy was born to try to force the State Department to list Menachem's place of birth as Israel on his U.S. passport.

Image: Ari Zivotofsky, right, stands with his son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court
Ari Zivotofsky, right, stands with his son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Nov. 7, 2011.Evan Vucci / AP, file

Administrations of both political parties have said the law is contrary to long-held U.S. policy that refuses to recognize any nation's sovereignty over Jerusalem until the Israelis and Palestinians resolve the city's status through negotiations. The country of birth is almost always listed on the passports of foreign-born citizens. But for those born in Jerusalem, just the city name is used.

The status of Jerusalem is among the thorniest issues in the region. Israel proclaims a united Jerusalem as its eternal capital. The Palestinians say their independent state will have east Jerusalem as its capital.

Tensions are high between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem and relations are strained between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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