Barack Obama has rekindled controversy over his Middle East policy by restating Jerusalem should be Israel’s capital. He was speaking in Sderot, the Israeli town frequently targeted by Palestinian militants’ rockets.
“Today I’ve had the honour of visiting the brave citizens of this town, Sderot. For seven years they’ve endured constant threats to their security as demonstrated by this collection of rockets that we see here today,” he said.
The US Democratic candidate dismayed Palestinians with his views on Jerusalem, which they regard as their capital. But he said it was a matter for negotiation: “I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and I’ve said that before and I will say it again. And I also have said that it is important to say that we don’t simply slice the city in half. But I’ve also said that that is a final status issue, that’s an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis — and it’s not the job of the US to dictate the form on which that will take.”
Israel was the latest stop on an overseas tour intended to boost Obama’s foreign policy credentials ahead of Novermber’s presidential election.
Analysts say the Illinois senator is seeking to allay wariness among some US Jewish voters about his policy towards Israel.
He met politicians from both sides but his talks with Palestinian leaders were described as low-profile in comparison to those with their Israeli counterparts.