Hillary courts New York Jews

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The Independent Online
IN AN attempt to win over New York's wealthy and influential Jewish vote, Hillary Clinton has said she supports moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, "the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel".

Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and Palestinians consider it the capital of future a Palestinian state. The US Embassy is in Tel Aviv, and there are frequent efforts by Congress to get it moved. The White House and the State Department are both resisting this. But Mrs Clinton needs to recover some ground with New York's Jewish community, some of whom were upset when she called for a Palestinian state last year.

Mrs Clinton took her new stand in a letter to the Orthodox Union. "If I am chosen by New Yorkers to be their senator ... you can be sure that I will be an active, committed advocate for a strong and secure Israel able to live in peace with its neighbours, with the United States embassy located in its capital, Jerusalem," she said.

But she added: "The timing [of a move] must be sensitive to Israel's interest in achieving a secure peace with its neighbours."

American policy is that Israel and the Palestinians should decide the fate of Jerusalem in talks on "final status" issues. US officials tried very hard to play down the statement. "The first lady was expressing her personal views and it does not complicate in any way our efforts to promote and accelerate the Middle East peace process," said a State Department spokesman.