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DNC Israel Platform Reviewed, 'Loved' By AIPAC, Sources Say (UPDATE)

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President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 5.
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 5.

WASHINGTON -- An aide involved in drafting the Democratic Party's 2012 platform told The Huffington Post Tuesday that party insiders are "shocked" by the charge that the Middle East section is anti-Israel.

The Democratic platform has come under fire recently for removing explicit references to making Jerusalem the capital of Israel and for softening its declaration about how to handle Palestinian refugees in a Jewish state, among other things.

The 2004 and 2008 versions of the platform included stronger language on these issues.

But the aide and a second source affiliated with the party -- both of whom were not authorized to speak on the drafting process -- added that officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the hardline pro-Israel interest group, had reviewed and approved the language prior to its finalization.

"They loved it," said the aide who worked on the platform.

Drafters of the DNC platform say they made the decision to back away from earlier, stronger terms because so-called "final status issues" like these should not be included in the platform of a governing party.

"The Dems took out all the mentions of final status issues because it's silly to get into these in a party platform," the aide said. "It doesn't change the position of the Obama administration."

The aide continued, "But we replaced it with ridiculously pro-Israel language. You read the platform and it's like AIPAC wrote it. And now Republicans are saying it's anti-Israel? Seriously?"

Promising to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as the formal capital of Israel has long been a popular presidential campaign theme -- until the actual work of governing sets in. In 1999, presidential candidate George W. Bush repeatedly promised to move the embassy, but never did so in eight years in office; presidential candidate Bill Clinton had made the same promises eight years earlier.

UPDATE: 9:04 p.m. -- A source close to AIPAC denied to HuffPost that officials from the group had reviewed and approved the "full Middle East platform" and said that the written submission made by AIPAC to the Democratic National Committee included "Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." The Democratic Party source stood by the initial report and insisted that AIPAC officials did review the draft language.

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