Further to yesterday’s post on the subject, Obama has clarified his position on Jerusalem and it has become clear that he meant by Jerusalem remaining the undivided capital of Israel that there is no return to the pre-1967 barbed-wire partition of Jerusalem but that it nevertheless remains part of the ‘final status’ package to be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinians. Matthew Yglesias reckons this is a self-defeating sleight of hand to AIPAC but I am not so sure. From the above Jerusalem Post article:
But congressman Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Florida with ties to the Jewish community and a long-time supporter of Obama, rejected the idea that the Illinois senator had been misleading with his comments.
“Everyone knows that Jerusalem is a final status issue. That is not a secret to anyone. Senator Obama says emphatically that should the Israelis and the Palestinians negotiate [an agreement], he will respect their conclusions and that he will not dictate a particular resolution.”
That sounds about right to me, as I had anticipated.
Asked for comment, the Obama campaign put a reporter in immediate contact with Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. — an Orthodox Jew, a strong supporter of Israel and Obama’s point man on many of these issues — who told ABC News, “that is not backtracking.”
“His position has been the same for the past 16 months,” Wexler said. “He believes Jerusalem should be an undivided city and must be the capital of a Jewish state of Israel. He has also said — and it’s the same position as President Bush, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert — that Jerusalem is of course a ‘final status’ issue,” meaning it would be one of the key and final points of negotiation for a Palestinian state. “And Sen. Obama as president would not dictate final status issues. He will permit the Palestinians and Israel to negotiate, and he would respect any conclusion they reach.”
Clearly those that thought Obama was guaranteeing to obstruct any Palestinian or Israeli moves at reconciliation on Jerusalem will be disappointed, and liberals will be relieved. Will this harm him? Maybe not. It turns out that his position is so very reasonable when explained, and he is getting lots of opportunity to explain it, and it is one that almost everyone understood to be the case anyway, and he has entirely dominated the AIPAC conference.