Candidate Bush Critical of Clinton Administration Pressure on Israel
Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush on Monday slammed incumbent President Bill Clinton for interfering in Israel's internal affairs as he courted support from the American Jewish community ahead of November's election.
"In recent times, Washington has tried to make Israel conform to his own plans and timetables, but this is not the path to peace," the Texas governor told the annual meeting of the influential American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
He cited the widespread belief that the Clinton administration, frustrated with the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, had supported now-Prime Minister Ehud Barak in last year's elections over then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"A clear and bad example was the administration's attempt to take sides in the most recent Israeli election," Bush said.
"America should not interfere in Israel's democratic process and America will not interfere in Israeli elections when I am the president."
Bush also repeated an earlier vow to begin a controversial transfer of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
"As soon as I take office, I will begin the process of moving the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital," Bush said, referring to Jerusalem where the parliament and most government offices are located.
Israelis hold Jerusalem to be their eternal capital while Palestinians see Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
The status of the city is one of the most difficult issues still separating the two sides in peace talks and to avoid controversy, most countries with diplomatic relations with Israel, including the United States, maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.
Clinton has several times put off demands from Republican lawmakers to move the embassy to Jerusalem where the United States keeps a large consulate -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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