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US presidential elections/Middle East

Obama repeats undivided Jerusalem call

Article published on the 2008-07-23 Latest update 2008-07-24 14:54 TU

Obama meets Israeli President Shimon Peres (Photo: Reuters)

Obama meets Israeli President Shimon Peres
(Photo: Reuters)

US presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday repeated his call for Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, despite Palestinian protests to a similar declaration earlier in his campaign. Obama was on a visit to the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been the target of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. 

Obama was speaking after a brief visit to the West Bank, where he met Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.

"I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel," he said. "I have said it before and will say it again... but I've also said that it is a final status issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved."

Obama's declaration that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel has angered Palestinians.

After the meeting with Abbas, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said that Obama promised to be "a full and positive partner in the peace" and that he "will not lose a single moment in pursuing it".

The Democratic presidential candidate started his visit with a meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and has since seen President Shimon Peres and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni.

Washington-based analyst Phyllis Bennis told RFI that both major parties in the US believe that uncritical support for Israel is a necessity for running for office.

"It doesn’t even reflect the views of the American Jewish community whom most candidates believe they are placating by taking this position," she says. "All of the recent polls within the Jewish community indicate a far wider range of opinion, far more nuanced views of Israel than are those reflected by the organisations that claim to speak in the name of all Jews."