Ky. senator contests U.S. Jerusalem policy

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright faced off with a senator this week over a long-running dispute with Capitol Hill regarding U.S. policy toward Jerusalem.

When asked by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at a hearing Tuesday whether the United States considers that Vice President Al Gore was in Israel when he delivered a speech last month in Jerusalem celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Jewish state, Albright said, "Jerusalem is a final-status issue."

In 1995, Congress overwhelmingly passed a law declaring that the United States "should" recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. The Clinton administration has refused, citing Israel's willingness to discuss the status of Jerusalem in the final-status talks with the Palestinians.

Speaking before the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, Albright told McConnell, "I think it's not appropriate for us to offer our views. And this is going to be a permanent-status issue."

The briefing book for Gore's trip, however, said his visit was to "Jerusalem, Israel."