US senator calls Jerusalem Israel's capital

February 20, 2013 - 12:31 PM
Mideast Israel Palestinians US

Israel's President Shimon Peres, center right, speaks with US Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. left, during their meeting in the President's residence in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. Rubio is on a visit to the region. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

JERUSALEM (AP) — An influential Republican senator has called Jerusalem the capital of Israel, taking a stand on an explosive issue between Israel and the Palestinians.

The fate of Jerusalem is one of the most intractable issues in the Mideast conflict with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming rights to the city.

In his first official visit to the country, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told Israel's president on Wednesday that Jerusalem is "of course the capital of your country." He reiterated America's bipartisan support for Israel.

Rubio, a favorite of his party's conservative wing, met Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

His visit comes ahead of President Barack Obama's scheduled visit in March. Obama has not made a similar declaration about Jerusalem.