Retired Marine General James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the post of Defense Secretary, said Thursday that the capital of Israel was Tel Aviv.
"Right now, I'd stick with the U.S. policy," the retired Marine general told Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is vetting his nomination. "The capital of Israel that I go to is Tel Aviv."
Mattis made the statement in response to a question posed to him by Sen. Lindsey Graham. Official U.S. policy doesn't recognize Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its capital. The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv, however U.S. policy doesn't explicitly state that Tel Aviv is Israel's capital.
Mattis also explained that "that's where all the government people are." While Israel's Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both located in Jerusalem, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the IDF headquarters - two places that Mattis has visited many times when he served in the U.S. military - are in fact located in Tel Aviv. (Capital of Israel Is Tel Aviv, Says Trump's Pentagon Pick Mattis, Haaretz, January 12, 2017.)