Friday, December 3, 1999
Bush vows to shift embassy to JerusalemHa'aretz Correspondent, By Nitzan Horowitz
WASHINGTON - George W. Bush, the front runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, has declared that he will move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the day he is inaugurated as U.S. president. Bush was speaking at a large gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington.
Bush stressed that a strong and safe Israel was a top American national interest. "Peace in the Middle East is our goal. But there will be no stable peace if our administration tries to force Israel to adopt our concept of national security," Bush said. When he visited Israel and was shown the Green Line from a helicopter, he grasped Israel's small geographic dimensions and understood the importance Israel attributed even to small pieces of land, he said.
The heads of the Republican Jewish Coalition (formerly the National Jewish Coalition) managed to bring all six Republican candidates to their gathering, attesting to the growing strength of Jews in the party. U.S. Jews are traditionally considered to be supporters of the Democratic Party.
The head of the organization, Matt Brooks, noted that this was changing and that a growing number of Jews today support Republican candidates.
All six candidates had only warm words for the State of Israel and went out of their way to please their listeners. Thus, for example, Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah) accused the Clinton administration of forcing the peace process on Israel. "I am completely fed up with the United States interferring just because a president wishes to leave a legacy behind him, and the Israelis being forced to gamble their lives on this," he said in a trembling voice.
Senator John McCain, second in the race after Bush, accused Clinton of undermining U.S. credibility by making promises and not keeping them. According to his aides, McCain believes that the administration promised Israel to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, but went back on its promise during the Wye River negotiations.
"As president I would never demand of Israel to sign any peace
agreement that would put Israeli lives at risk in return for a false promise
of peace," McCain said.
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