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U.S. Ambassador Makes Amends with Presence at New York Gala

One week after offending Israeli and American Jewish officials by not showing up at Israel’s official kickoff of Jerusalem 3000, the U.S. ambassador to Israel has made amends.

Ambassador Martin Indyk made an unscheduled appearance at Gracie Mansion here Monday night, as New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani hosted a garden reception at his home in honor of Jerusalem 3000, a 15-month celebration of the founding of Jerusalem.

Indyk’s appearance came just days after Secretary of State Warren Christopher assured Jewish leaders here that Indyk’s absence from the Jerusalem event was not intended as a boycott.

Monday’s invitation-only event in New York, which featured an address by Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, was co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel in New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

According to organizers of the gathering, Indyk, who was scheduled to be in town to address a meeting of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning, made known on Monday afternoon that he would like to attend the celebration in New York.

Jewish leaders, who had protested Indyk’s absence from the Sept. 4 Jerusalem 3000 celebration in Jerusalem, welcomed Indyk’s presence.

Indyk’s “presence is appropriate,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said after the formal speeches at the event.

With Christopher’s letter and Indyk’s presence in New York, the Clinton administration “has taken the steps to rectify” last week’s situation, Hoenlein said. …TX.-Christopher’s letter, in response to one from the Conference of Presidents, said the U.S. Embassy in Israel had opted to send its senior cultural affairs officer rather than Indyk because the state Department thought the celebration emphasized “the culture and history” of Jerusalem.

At the event in New York, Indyk did not address the hundreds of guests, but sat on the dais along with other dignitaries and organizers of the event. He refused to answer a reporter’s questions about last week’s flap quickly leaving the reception.

But in Israel’s view, Indyk’s presence “cleared some of the misunderstandings,” said Ambassador Colette Avital, Israel’s consul general in New York.

“Whatever support we get from the United States government” concerning the unity of Jerusalem “will always be helpful,” she said.

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