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Obama on Jerusalem. What did he mean?
Barack Obama said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Compare that remark with this comment by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published on January 1 in an interview with The Jerusalem Post: “The world that is friendly to Israel… that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the 1967 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem.”
Obama’s comment infuriated Palestinians.
The United States and other international powers do not recognise Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following the 1967 war. The future of Jerusalem is one of the most divisive issues facing Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators as they try to reach a deal before George W Bush leaves office in 2009.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank called it a “pandering performance”
In Jerusalem, Israeli officials, speaking privately, made clear they saw it as a bit of domestic electioneering from a candidate who would find it hard to stick to his pledge if elected – “We know how this works,” one told Reuters. “He thinks he might be short on the Jewish vote.”
Did Obama mean it? Was he playing for votes?