Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel: Obama

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama said Wednesday that Jerusalem must remain the "undivided" capital of Israel in a speech to a powerful US-Israel lobby group here.
"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided," Obama told the vast annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council (AIPAC).
Addressing the group in almost his first act since claiming the Democratic nomination late Tuesday, Obama said he was a "true friend" of Israel and that the US bond with the Jewish state was "unbreakable."
Obama drew a standing ovation as he arrived to address the mighty US-Israel lobby, and also addressed perceived suspicion of him in some sectors of the Jewish community.
"As president I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security," Obama said in a cavernous Washington conference center, his image emblazoned across eight massive cinema-style screens.
Obama said in the strikingly pro-Israel speech that the US bond with the Jewish state was "unbreakable today, unbreakable tomorrow, unbreakable for ever," adding he was speaking from his heart as a "true friend" of Israel.
Republicans have hammered Obama over his offer to talk to leaders of US foe Iran, saying the strategy ignores repeated warnings by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to destroy Israel.
But he said it was time to abandon Middle East policies of President George W. Bush, which he said had made Israel less safe, and accused Republican presumptive nominee John McCain of wanting to prolong them.
"There are those who would continue and intensify this failed status quo, ignoring eight years of accumulated evidence that our foreign policy is dangerously flawed," Obama said.
Obama warned Islamist movement Hamas must renounce violence, pledged to stand up for Israel's right to defend itself at the United Nations and to provide the Jewish state the means to guarantee its security.
"We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements. There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations."
He said he would push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal if elected president in November.
"Any agreement the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state," Obama said. (Source)


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