Lieberman Backtracks on Embassy Issue
Janine Zacharia - August 10, 2000 - The Jerusalem Post
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WASHINGTON (August 10) - The Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, has apparently changed his position that the US Embassy should be moved immediately from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying now that it should not be done until negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are given a full chance at success.
Lieberman, a co-sponsor of legislation that required America to move the embassy by May 1999, said in an interview Tuesday night with CNN's Larry King that he still believes the embassy should be transferred, but that now is not the time.
"Right now I think it would not be a good idea because there is still the flame of hope burning at Camp David," Lieberman said. "I think they made tremendous progress at Camp David, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of President Clinton, and I think they can still bring an agreement home before the end of the year."
The Republican candidate, George W. Bush, has vowed to start moving the embassy on his first day in office, and his camp assailed Lieberman's move. The executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matthew Brooks, said that while he has had nothing but praise for Lieberman in the past, the comments were a bad sign.
"This is the first of what I think will be other sellouts of the principles that Joseph Lieberman has held to strongly in the past, in order to subvert his views to those of Al Gore, who has been vehemently opposed to moving the embassy to Jerusalem," Brooks said.
The Bush campaign charged that Lieberman has also started to back away from other positions out of step with Vice President Gore's. While Lieberman said in 1998 that he supported privatization of part of social security - a major element of Bush's domestic platform that has been attacked by Gore - Lieberman told King that he simply once had been "intrigued" by the idea. Lieberman also is showing signs of backing away from his support for school vouchers, which would give poor parents money to send their children to private and religious schools.
While left-leaning groups like Americans for Peace Now applauded Lieberman's remarks on the Jerusalem embassy, Americans for a Safe Israel, a group opposed to the Oslo accords, expressed disappointment.
"I think that it's very sad that he is clearly part of the Clinton-Gore team and he has to kow-tow to the party line," said Helen Freedman, executive director of AFSI. "Lieberman came out strongly against the use of the waiver and was adamant that [the embassy move] should be done immediately. And last night he said we'll have to wait and see. We're very saddened."
Yesterday Gore and Lieberman spent their first full day campaigning together for the White House with visits to their boyhood hometowns in Carthage, Tennessee, and Stamford, Connecticut.
A Gallup poll released after Lieberman was chosen as Gore's running mate showed a dramatic cut in Bush's lead over Gore among registered voters, from 19 points to two.
The narrowing of the race, Gallup said, was not directly attributable to Gore's selection of Lieberman, but rather to "the shift in positive media coverage from the Republicans to the Democrats after the GOP convention."