The Daily Star
March 18, 2008 - 6:50pm

US Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday that he supported Israel's claim to Occupied Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, flying in the face of the international community's stance. "I support Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," McCain said in Jordan on the latest leg of a visit to the region.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after seizing it in the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967 and declared it part of its eternal undivided capital, a claim not recognized by the world community. The fate of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest issues in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and renewed Israeli settlement activity in the occupied eastern part is hampering peace talks that were revived only in November.

The Palestinians, who want to make the eastern part of the Holy City the capital of their future promised state, said McCain's statements contradicted the two-state solution backed by US President George W. Bush.

McCain's remarks "do not represent the position of the US administration, which considers all the Palestinian areas occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem, as occupied territories," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP in Ramallah. "They also contradict the two-state vision of President Bush."

The United States, along with virtually all other foreign governments, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

In June, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution urging Bush to move the embassy to Jerusalem and congratulating Israel "on the 40th anniversary of the reunification of that historic city." A "Jerusalem Embassy Act" was passed by Congress in 1995, that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel." However, successive US presidents have deferred the actual move by six-month periods.

McCain insisted that he supported the peace process.

"I am committed to pursuing the Israel-Palestinian peace process and make it a high priority," he told reporters in Amman. "I know that the people of Israel and the Palestinian people want to see a peaceful settlement as both sides suffered enormously," he added. "I think it will be enormously helpful if ... Gaza is not governed by an entity that is committed the extinction of the state of Israel."

McCain was referring to the Islamist movement Hamas which in June evicted Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's forces in the Gaza Strip and seized control of the territory.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017