Group warns Obama against dividing Jerusalem

Thursday, July 24, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

While visiting US presidential hopeful Barack Obama was meeting with top Israeli leaders on Wednesday, representatives of leading Israeli and American Jewish organizations came together under the banner of the Coalition for a United Jerusalem to demand that the candidate reaffirm his initial support for a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control.

In a June address to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Obama declared to thunderous applause that "Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

In subsequent interviews, Obama backtracked, claiming that he had only meant Jerusalem should never again be divided by barbed wire, even if it is the capital of two states.

The Coalition for a United Jerusalem pointed in its press release to Tuesday's bulldozer terrorist attack just a block of Obama's hotel on King David Street, insisting that if the city is divided such violence will become far more prevalent.

"The lack of clarity on the indivisibility of Jerusalem as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jewish State of Israel only encourages such attacks," said Harvey Schwartz, chairman of the American Israeli Action Coalition.

Rabbi Aaron Tirschwell of the Worldwide Young Israel Movement added that "Tuesday's horrific terrorist attack in the heart of Jerusalem will seem small in comparison to what would happen if Palestinians were given free rein in a divided Jerusalem."

The Coalition for a United Jerusalem urged Obama to consider the disastrous consequences of previous Israeli withdrawals from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip before pressuring Israel to surrender any part of its capital.

But it was his revised position on the future of Jerusalem that Obama upheld when meeting with Palestinian leaders on Wednesday afternoon, reassuring his hosts in Ramallah that he had never intended to support Israel's position that Jerusalem remain its eternal, undivided capital.

"[Obama] assured us there was a misunderstanding when he said he supports the Israelis' rights to hold on to Jerusalem. He told us he corrected this right away and that he supports a negotiated settlement that will give the Palestinians territory," an aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told WorldNetDaily following the talks.

Obama also confirmed his commitment to the two-state solution that has thus far proved just shy of impossible to implement. The candidate insisted there is no time to waste coming up with another solution, even if the two-state solution in its current form is critically flawed.

Said Obama in an interview with Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper: "The next US administration should help the parties build on the progress that has been made thus far, and continue to work toward the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security."

Obama wrapped up his visit to Israel with a late-night visit to the Western Wall, where he said prayers and then told gathered supporters and curious onlookers that the US will always remain Israel's truest friend and will always look out for the security of the Jewish state.

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