Hillary Rodham Clinton, first lady and putative Senate candidate, yesterday postponed a trip to Israel for later this month, following State Department advice to avoid interfering with Israel's efforts to form a government after the election of Ehud Barak as prime minister.

Clinton's office said the decision had nothing to do with her all-but-announced bid for the open Senate seat in New York, where Jewish voters are an important constituency. "Because Israel is still in the process of forming a government, a visit at this time would be inappropriate," the first lady's office said.

Regardless of the reasons for the postponement, it will spare the first lady from a certain barrage of questions about her statement that Palestinians eventually should have a "functioning modern state" -- a comment made last year when she didn't have to worry about the peculiarities and pitfalls of New York politics. But Clinton isn't trying to dodge tough spots, her aides insist, and she will prove it by going to Israel later this year.

"It really is straightforward," spokeswoman Marsha Berry said. It will allow the Israeli government "to have the ability to put itself together, and we're going to be happy to go there" after that.

FEC Votes for Cyber-Cash

The Federal Election Commission endorsed e-commerce for presidential candidates yesterday, voting unanimously to allow public matching funds for credit card contributions accepted over the Internet or by phone.

Acting on a request from Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley, the FEC bowed to what it called "the rising popularity" of the Internet "as a vehicle for financial transactions."

Bradley and other candidates seeking the White House have embraced Internet fund-raising as a low-cost, high-potential tactic at a time when campaigns cost more than ever and traditional direct-mail appeals require a substantial investment before they yield significant contributions. The Bradley campaign says it has raised $170,000 on the Internet, $52,000 of that via credit cards.

The FEC's decision is a big boost for such Internet appeals -- it means they are also eligible for public matching funds. Credit card donations haven't been eligible for the public money until now. The only caveat offered by the FEC: "Additional precautions" should be taken when such contributions are made over the Internet because there is no paper record of such transactions.

"We have found certainly there is a lot of potential in Internet fund-raising," said Bradley spokesman Eric Hauser. "Now, the challenge is to determine the best way to tap it."

Forbes's Money Problem

Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes may have hit on a winning issue.

The new $20 bill looks "like Monopoly money," the Republican presidential hopeful scornfully told an audience in Iowa yesterday. "That's going to be changed if a certain person is elected president. We'll have money that looks real again."

Forbes, a proponent of economic globalism, was explaining to the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce that more than half of all U.S. currency "resides outside the United States." Along the way, he paused to blast the lopsided new twenties, with their great big portraits of Andrew Jackson.

Staff writers Susan B. Glasser and David Von Drehle contributed to this report.