Metro-North airs both sides of Mideast debate

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The debate over Palestinian statehood has spilled over from the Middle East to the commuter lines of New York City.

On Thursday, California-based pro-Israel group StandWithUs began highlighting its view of the historical Jewish connection to Israel on billboards in Metro-North train stations from Peekskill to Yonkers.

The move comes in response to pro-Palestinian billboards that have appeared at Metro-North stations in the past month featuring maps of Israel from 1946 through 2010 that focus on the expansion of Israel at the expense of Palestinians. The ads, sponsored by Henry Clifford, who is co-chairman of the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, have come under attack by some local politicians and Jewish leaders.

"The anti-Israel ads are a shocking distortion of history," Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement about the Palestinian ads. "The message presumes there once was an Arab Palestine, when in fact no such country ever existed. As two of our billboards point out, this region has been recognized as the Jewish homeland for over 3,000 years."

Rothstein said the group is spending $16,000 on 75 ads that will be posted at train stations along the Harlem line and in Mount Vernon, Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Scarsdale, Hartsdale, White Plains and other locations.

Clifford could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In a recent interview with Fox News, Clifford said, "Anyone who challenges these maps and the content of these ads -- it's their obligation to show that they're historically wrong. The ball is in their court."

The battle of the billboards is being waged as Palestinian leaders make a renewed push for statehood recognition by the United Nations Security Council, despite objections from Israel and the United States.

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