During a press availability in Sderot, Israel this morning Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, reiterated his strong support for Israel, “I bring to Sderot an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. The state of Israel faces determined enemies who seek its destruction. But it also has a friend and ally in the United States that will always stand by the people of Israel.”
He said that he understands why Israel is reluctant to negotiate with Hamas, which does not recognize their right to exist, “If somebody were sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop it. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”
Obama also restated his belief that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel, but that the issue should be negotiated, “That’s an issue that has to be dealt with the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and it is not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history.”
He was asked by a reporter if this was a change in his position from the speech he gave at AIPAC, where he said that the city should remain undivided, “I didn’t change my statement. I continue to say Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. I will say it before and I will say it again.” He also stated that he would be willing to sit down with Iran without preconditions, which is something that the Bush administration now seems to be doing.
This is the segment of Obama’s trip that holds the most political peril for him. He is facing a great deal of skepticism both in Israel and with Jewish voters in the US. I personally would like to see Obama shift our policy back to the Clinton position and get the peace process back on track. I think that his stance is much too hard line to be viewed as fair broker for peace by the Arab world. In my opinion, this is a stance designed to win votes at home, and if elected, I hope that he would move a little closer to the center.