JERUSALEM – In a rapid response to potentially damaging Election Day news, the Obama campaign today urged Palestinian officials to deny a report that the Democratic nominee confided to Palestinian leadership that he supports their right to a capital in eastern Jerusalem, according to a senior Palestinian official.
The official, a longtime reliable source, told WND that Obama advisers have engaged in a series of intense conversations in the last few hours asking that the office of President Mahmoud Abbas issue a denial.
Abbas political adviser Namer Hamad subsequently issued a denial to reporters, but the senior official confirmed to WND that Obama said in a July trip to the region he favored a “negotiated settlement” that may grant the PA control over sections of Jerusalem.
The Obama campaign was responding to a Lebanese newspaper story reported by WND today quoting sources in Ramallah who claimed that in a meeting in July with Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the two heard from Obama “the best things they ever heard from an American presidential candidate.”
The report in the Al-Akhbar daily, known to have close contacts to Palestinian leaders in Lebanon, claimed Obama told Abbas and Fayyad he “supports the rights of the Palestinians to east Jerusalem, as well as their right to a stable, sovereign state,” but he petitioned them to keep the remarks confidential.
Asked for comment by WND, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat would neither confirm nor deny knowledge of Obama’s purported remarks.
The Lebanese report echoes a similar exclusive WND article immediately following Obama’s meeting with Abbas and Fayyad in which a senior Palestinian source said Obama informed the Palestinians he supports a “negotiated settlement” that may grant the PA control over sections of Jerusalem.
“He assured us there was a misunderstanding when he said in [June] he supports the Israelis’ rights to hold on to Jerusalem,” the PA official, who took part in the meeting with Obama told WND at the time. “He told us he corrected this right away and that he supports a negotiated settlement that will give the Palestinians territory.”
The official was referring to a speech Obama delivered in June 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.”
Immediately following the speech, Obama reversed himself during a CNN appearance, explaining he meant Jerusalem shouldn’t be physically divided with a partition.
“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 that “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.”
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