Arab anger forces Obama to backtrack on Jerusalem

Sunday, June 08, 2008 |  staff writer

Since his strong statements in support of a united Jerusalem, Barack Obama, democratic candidate for American president, was forced to backtrack in the face of Arab anger on Thursday.

By the next day, Obama was backpedaling.

“Well, obviously it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues,” he said. “And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations… As a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute [a policy of the capital remaining undivided.]”

Obama added that there must be a way in which "everyone has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem, but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

In a speech at the Jewish lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington last week, Obama said that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was angry with Obama’s statements and said “we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital."

Israel has provided Christians and Muslims with free access control of holy sites in Jerusalem since the Holy City was restored to the Jewish State in the 1967 Six-Day War. When the city was occupied by Jordan, from 1948 to 1967, Christians and Jews were prohibited from holy sites.

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