Israel Tensions Ahead Of Trump Visit

Israel Tensions Ahead Of Trump Visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's national security adviser on Tuesday sidestepped questions about whether Jerusalem's Western Wall is part of Israel ahead of Trump's planned visit to the Old City.

No sitting US president has ever visited the Western Wall, which is not officially recognized by the global community or by the U.S.as part of Israel, although Israel considers Jerusalem its capital.

Trump is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia, Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories and the Vatican, the seat of the Catholic Church.

This will be a significant anniversary for many reasons, but chief among them is that it will mark 50 years of full Israeli control over Jerusalem, a city that, according to the United States, belongs to no one, and that, according to the late King Hussein of Jordan, ought to belong to God alone.

So I told you this weekend about Secretary of State Tillerson making the comment that moving the USA embassy to Jerusalem would depend on a peace deal between Palestine and Israel - something we know isn't just going to happen.

According to reports in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked to join Trump at the wall but the USA declined, with one official telling the Israelis that the site is "not your territory".

During his trip, Trump won't unveil a specific "diplomatic plan" or a "road map", Friedman said. "This is nTterritory, but rather part of the West Bank".

Trump will be the first sitting president to pay a visit to the Wailing Wall, located in Jerusalem's Old City, captured by Israel in 1967.

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Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, said on Sunday that Trump was still assessing whether relocating the embassy would help or harm chances for peace.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all foreign countries to base their embassies there. Asked if Trump thinks the wall is part of Israel, he replied only: "That sounds like a policy decision".

The White House distanced itself from the alleged comments, saying in statements to USA media that they did not reflect the views of the adminstration.

A White House spokesman later told CNN: "These comments were not authorized by the White House".

Israel annexed East Jerusalem shortly after the war, in a move never recognized internationally.

USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a staunch backer of illegal settlements, arrived in the country on Monday to take up his post ahead of the visit.

"Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem would not only not harm the peace process, rather the opposite".

President Trump may be bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of any bias towards Israel, let alone towards the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty in the face of widespread rancor from Arab allies over the issue.

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