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White House Defends First Lady

May 11, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House today tried to kill speculation that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement of support for a Palestinian state was a deliberate move to put pressure on Israel.

``She told me personally it was not,″ presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said. Asked if he believed her, he said, ``Well, of course.″

Administration officials have said repeatedly that Mrs. Clinton’s remark did not represent U.S. policy or President Clinton’s views. The official policy is that the question of a Palestinian state is a matter to be decided by Israel and the Palestinians as part of a final settlement.

However, Mrs. Clinton’s remark continues to be seen by some as a calculated administration effort to force Israeli concessions in Mideast peace talks.

David Bar-Illan, a top aid to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the ``damage is irreversible″ from Mrs. Clinton’s comment.

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