WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States must stand by its friend Israel as that nation takes risks to secure peace in the Middle East, Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Jewish audience Tuesday night.

Speaking before the National Jewish Democratic Council, the first lady stressed that the United States has an important role to play in bringing about this peace as well.

``If there is to be peace, Congress must make good on the promises the president made at Wye River,'' she said, referring to pledges of U.S. foreign aid for Israeli security.

``We must do everything in our power to facilitate, not dictate the peace process,'' she added at a later event, as she received an award from the Jewish women's group Hadassah.

Mrs. Clinton used the event to reaffirm a position she stated earlier this summer _ that she considers Jerusalem the ``eternal and indivisible capital'' of Israel and she would support moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

``Just as Jerusalem is home to your hospitals where care is acceptable for all people, we all look forward to the day when ... Jerusalem will be home to the Embassy of the United States and all other nations,'' she told the women's group, which has over 300,000 members and promotes charitable causes.

If there is to be peace in the Middle East, it must come with a pledge for Israel's security and a commitment to fighting terrorism, she said.

``The people of Israel have lived for too long with bombs, they have lived with the awful fear that their children will not come home from school alive,'' Mrs. Clinton said.

Hadassah's decision to bestow the honor on the first lady generated controversy, with protesters earlier this month accusing Hadassah of betraying its ideals and objecting to Mrs. Clinton's past statements supporting Palestinian statehood.

Describing the recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Mrs. Clinton said she was touched by seeing so many of those who had made sacrifices in the hopes of bringing safety and security to their homeland.

``We can never give up until that day finally comes,'' she said.

She also highlighted the president's commitment to helping those who are persecuted abroad, such as in Kosovo.

``As a world community, under this president, we have said we will not be victims and we will not be bystanders,'' she said.

Mrs. Clinton, who has formed an exploratory committee for a possible bid for U.S. Senate from New York, was welcomed on stage as ``a true friend of the Jewish people'' by Monte Friedkin, council chairman.

``Just like the U.S.-Israel partnership, the close friendship between Hillary Clinton and the American Jewish community has flourished,'' he said.