JAFFA, Israel – Sen. Barack Obama has once again changed his tune regarding his recent exclamation at a pro-Israel event that he supports Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s undivided capital.
“You know, the truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech, and we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given,” Obama stated yesterday during an interview on CNN’s show, “Fareed Zakaria – GPS.”
“The point we were simply making was, is that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the ’67 war, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent. I was not trying to predetermine what are essentially final-status issues.”
Obama was referring to a speech he gave in May to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in which he stated if he is elected president, “Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”
His statement prompted outcry from the Palestinian Authority and numerous Palestinian American organizations.
The day after the speech, Obama flip-flopped, also during a CNN appearance.
“Well, obviously, it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations,” he said in response to a question about whether Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the city.
Obama said “as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute” a division of the city. “And I think that it is smart for us to, to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city.”
Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital; the area has large Arab neighborhoods, a significant Jewish population and sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
WND previously exposed that tens of thousands of Arab complexes in eastern Jerusalem were constructed illegally on land purchased by the Jewish National Fund, a Jewish nonprofit that purportedly raises donor funds for the purpose of Jewish settlement.
Obama has chosen an adviser on Israel-Palestinian issues well-known for his support of dividing Jerusalem.
“It will be impossible to make progress on serious peace talks without putting the future of Jerusalem on the table,” adviser Daniel Kurtzer said as recently as last month at a conference organized by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, or JPPPI.
According to top Israeli diplomatic sources, Obama is expected to appoint Kurtzer as a top U.S. broker on Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, has long been recognized by Israeli leaders, including prime ministers, as biased against Israel and is notorious for urging extreme concessions from the Jewish state. He was appointed as a primary Obama adviser on the Middle East earlier this year.
Obama’s appointment of Kurtzer raised eyebrows among the pro-Israel Jewish community.
“We oppose the appointment of Kurtzer because of his long, documented record of hostility to and severe pressure upon Israel,” said Zionist Organization of America National Chairman Morton Klein.
Kurtzer has been blasted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He has angered Israeli leaders many times for pushing Israel into what they described as extreme concessions to the Palestinians.
“With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States,” former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted saying in 2001 by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer “frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”
Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2001: “Kurtzer … will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views.”
The ZOA points out Israel’s leading daily, Yediot Ahronot, editorialized on Kurtzer’s negative influence against Israel:
“Possibly more than any other U.S. State Department official, Kurtzer has been instrumental in promoting the goals of the Palestinians and in raising their afflictions to the center of the U.S. policymakers’ agenda,” the paper stated.
Kurtzer first rose to prominence in 1988 when as a State Department adviser he counseled the Reagan administration to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat. The PLO had carried out scores of anti-Western attacks, but in the late ’80s Arafat claimed to have renounced violence.
In 1988, Kurtzer was noted as the principal author of a major policy speech by then-Secretary of State George Shultz in which the U.S. government first recognized the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians.
Haaretz reported in 2001 that Kurtzer had a “vocal conflict” with an Israeli government official in Philadelphia in the summer of 1990 after Kurtzer “attacked the Israeli government for refusing to include the PLO in the peace process [and] said that this constituted the main obstacle to peace”
In Kurtzer’s latest book, “Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East,” he largely blames Israel for the collapse of U.S.-brokered negotiations at Camp David. Contradicting accounts by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, both of whom squarely blamed Arafat for refusing to make peace, Kurtzer argues in his book Israel did not offer enough concessions to the Palestinians.
At Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. According to multiple reports, Barak also offered Arafat the upper sections of the Temple Mount.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.