Gingrich affirms Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, angers Palestinians

JERUSALEM (AP) — Angering Palestinians, House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared the disputed city of Jerusalem “the united and eternal capital of Israel” in an outspoken speech Tuesday to Israeli lawmakers.
The question of Jerusalem, claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital, is one of the most explosive in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Clinton administration, like most world governments, has held off recognizing the city as Israel’s capital until its final status is settled in peace talks.
Palestinian officials reacted sharply to Gingrich’s pro-Israel stance and his criticism of Clinton’s Middle East policy, with one Palestinian official saying that Yasser Arafat might even cancel his Wednesday session with Gingrich in protest.
In comments after Tuesday’s speech, Gingrich accused Arafat’s Palestinian Authority of “inciting” or “suggesting” violence.
Gingrich later tried to soften his remarks. Asked if the Palestinians had a right to the city, he said, “It’s a perfect example of what needs to be in direct negotiations. The Palestinians and Mr. Arafat have to sit down and work it out with the Israelis.”
Gingrich has accused the Clinton administration of siding with the Palestinians by pressuring Israel to carry out a 13 percent pullout from the West Bank.