U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama has vowed staunch support for
Israel, saying he would not press it into making peace concessions that
would compromise its security.
The Democratic senator spoke while touring Israel Wednesday.
He said he hopes he can serve as an effective partner -- whether as
U.S. president or as a senator -- to bring about a more lasting peace
in the region.
Obama also reaffirmed his position that Jerusalem will be Israel's
capital. But he said Israelis and Palestinians will determine
Jerusalem's final status, and that it is not a matter for the U.S. to
Obama spent Wednesday meeting with Israeli leaders and traveling to the
rocket-battered town of Sderot in southern Israel. He also met with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and pledged
support for the Palestinians.
Obama did not meet with anyone from Hamas, the Palestinian militant
group that controls Gaza and is blamed for most of the cross-border
rocket fire into Israel.
His rival for the U.S. presidency, Republican
Senator John McCain, did not meet with Palestinian leaders when he
visited Israel in March.
While touring in Israel, Obama placed a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem, which honors those killed in the Holocaust.
He hailed the Jewish state as a "miracle."
Obama traveled from the United States to Afghanistan several days ago,
and he ended the Middle East phase of his trip Wednesday after stops in
Iraq, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. He is scheduled
to head to Germany next, to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and
deliver a speech in Berlin on trans-Atlantic relations.