Friday, 25 May, 2018

Israel wants White House to explain United States official's Western Wall comment

Kenny Thornton | 17 May, 2017, 11:14

The drama unfolded when a senior White House official said that the Western Wall was part of the West Bank and not part of Israel's territory, as Channel 2 reported on Monday.

Based on Abbas' Washington meetings, Ramallah believes that the aims of Trump's regional visit are multiple.

The former USA administration of Barack Obama was deeply opposed to Israel's expansion of the settlements and in December withheld its veto from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the policy.

Friedman, who visited the Western Wall after his arrival on Monday, said Trump had given him "the unequivocal and unambiguous mandate to support the state of Israel in every way and in all ways".

At this stage, he will work out of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and will live in the ambassador's residence in Herzliya.

The unusual release came after a Fox News reported that Netanyahu asked Trump not to move the US embassy to Jerusalem at this point.

Israel angrily demanded an explanation from the White House, casting a cloud over the highly anticipated visit by the new president, which is being greeted with a mixture of excitement and nervousness by Israeli officials.

Trump's team had already planned to have Trump pay a visit to the wall, but on his own rather than as an official diplomatic act.

REACTIONS: Abe Foxman, former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), lambasted the White House for its "very serious misunderstandings" on sensitive and important issues to Israel and the Jewish people.

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The official reportedly told Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall is "not your territory". It said the comment prompted shouting from the Israeli preparatory team.

Israel's view is that the issue of Jerusalem was buried decades ago after it seized control of the eastern half of the city during the June 1967 war.

Netanyahu on Monday called again on Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem, on the same day that his controversial Israel envoy pick David Friedman arrives in Israel to begin his tenure. "On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting an historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel". The Old City is also home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The former bankruptcy lawyer has expressed scepticism over the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of U.S. peace efforts.

Earlier on Monday Conor Powell, a Jerusalem-based reporter for the United States network, tweeted: "Everyone I've spoken to in DC that has been briefed on Jerusalem embassy move says Netanyahu told Trump not to move embassy at this time".

When President Donald Trump heads to the Middle East next week, the world will be primarily watching closely to see if he makes any of his trademark gaffes that set off a cultural land mine in Saudi Arabia or Israel.

At this point, the TV report said, a senior American official rudely responded: "What are you talking about?"

Israelis hope that Trump will honor his campaign promise either to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's united capital or announce a move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. His campaign platform made no mention of an independent Palestinian state. "Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process". The Palestinians assume that Trump will leave the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, but may offer recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Friedman is an orthodox Jew who has raised funds for a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.


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