JERUSALEM – Sen. Barack Obama told the Palestinian leadership during a trip to the region in July he supports their rights to a capital in eastern Jerusalem, but he asked them to keep his remarks secret, according to a Lebanese newspaper.
The Al-Akhbar daily, known to have close contacts to Palestinian leaders in Lebanon, quoted sources in Ramallah claiming that in a meeting in July with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the two heard from Obama “the best things they ever heard from an American presidential candidate.”
The report 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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