Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Trump 'careful to understand' Israel embassy move

Francis Olson | 19 May, 2017, 18:34

Israel's Channel 2 reported Monday that the us delegation rejected Israeli requests that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Israeli TV crew accompany President Donald Trump on his visit to the Western Wall.

Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gave President Donald Trump's inauguration its single largest donation at $5 million, is furious about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made on Sunday regarding Trump's campaign promise to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Axios reported.

In January, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Trump that moving the embassy would have a "disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region".

The following day, Trump is set to travel to Jerusalem, where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among other Israeli leaders.

At least 10,000 Israeli police will be deployed to protect Donald Trump during his visit to the Jewish state on 22-23 May.

But generally, it is hard to overstate the degree to which the career bureaucracy disapproves of moving the USA embassy - and not just in the State Department. Trump had promised during his campaign to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose status is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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.

Past administrations have said they would move the us embassy to Jerusalem if Palestine and Israel made peace.

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The Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

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.

According to Netanyahu, transferring the embassy will "advance peace" by "shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel".

There were no further details about the security arrangements but the source added that the Palestinian security apparatus would oversee parts of president's visit as had been the case with previous trips by USA leaders to the the West Bank.

Also on Tuesday, Trump's controversial choice for ambassador David Friedman presented his credentials in a ceremony at President Reuven Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem.

In an unusual move, he also released some of the minutes of a meeting he had with Trump in Washington in February, showing that he had pressed the new president to move the embassy.

Binyamin Netanyahu insisted on Monday that he had asked President Donald Trump to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem, highlighting a potentially explosive point of contention with the Americans just a week before the U.S. president is due to make his first visit to Israel.

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