Israel Resource Review 23rd July, 2008


Protest Vigil Greets Obama
David Bedein

Jerusalem - As Sen. Barack Obama prepared to go to sleep in Jerusalem at the elegant King David Hotel, a coalition of organizations held a vigil across the street, spearheaded by the Worldwide Young Israel Movement and the Zionist Organization of America.

Earlier in the evening, these groups convened a crowded news conference, which was devoid of personal attacks, yet firm in its demands of Mr. Obama to do the following:

* Disavow subsequent retractions which qualified his original calls for an undivided Jerusalem to mean only that it would not be separated by barbed wire as in 1948-67

* Declare that security and access to all holy places can only be guaranteed by Israeli sovereignty, as demonstrated during the past 41 years

* Acknowledge that Israeli withdrawals from Southern Lebanon and Gaza in the past have led to destabilization and increased violence and terror as well as that these withdrawals presage a similar deterioration likely to occur in East Jerusalem if Israel were to withdraw and turn the area over to Fatah, which would likely be usurped by Hamas

* Take immediate steps to introduce balance and a pro-Israel perspective by appointing a number of foreign policy advisors more likely to consider an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

In his recent speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Public Policy Conference, Mr. Obama said, "Let me be clear . . . Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." ("Undivided" is a code word universally understood to mean that it would remain exclusively under Israeli sovereignty.)

Within days he had backtracked, explaining that what he meant when he said "undivided" was simply that the city shouldn't again be divided by barbed wire as it was between 1949 and 1967. He suggested that there was room for Palestinian sovereignty in the city as well. In a CNN interview, he said he thought a good "starting point" for negotiations was the Clinton plan advanced at Taba in 2000, which called for a divided city, but actually was subsequently taken off the table.

Mr. Obama's Middle East advisors did not answer The Bulletin's request for comment on these questions posed to him by vigil participants outside of his hotel.

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