White House: Trump staffer's Western Wall comment does not reflect administration policy

JERUSALEM (AP) — A diplomatic spat on Monday erupted between US and Israeli officials, just days before a planned visit by President Donald Trump, after an American representative questioned Israel's claim to one of the holiest sites in Judaism.

Trump is expected to arrive in Israel next Monday as part of his Middle East visit in a bid to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

"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", Powell tweeted.

Officials are also considering a lesser announcement outlining a USA vision for the future of Jerusalem as Israel's capital without taking any immediate action, created to help Trump save face on his campaign pledge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office denied the claim on Monday evening, issuing a statement that said: "The things published on Fox News are a lie".

With the president said to still be undecided on the issues, a number of long-time U.S. officials in the Department of State, Department of Defense and the broader intelligence community have issued stern warnings to the West Wing, suggesting the decision could harm the peace process and spark unrest in the region, the report said.

The Israeli prime ministers office says it is seeking clarifications from President Donald Trump after an American official said the Western Wall is part of the West Bank.

The families of terror victims appealed to Trump, offering to meet with him and asserting that the Palestinian Authority incites violence by offering to pay terrorists in exchange for committing heinous acts against Israelis.

An Israeli official told Channel 2 that the Trump team member's comment "was received with astonishment".

Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

The U.S. embassy is located in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem because both Israelis and Palestinians consider the city, one of the holiest sites of all Abrahamic religions, their capitals.

Trump is reportedly planning to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

A Fox News reporter cited sources saying Netanyahu had asked Trump not to move the embassy now, leading the prime minister to issue an angry rebuttal.

Jewish-American Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, entered the residence with a marching band playing.

Adding to this, on Thursday, 15 Iyar, Mr. Netanyahu called on all nations to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, Israel's eternal capital. Every President since then - Republican and Democrat - has waived the embassy move every six months, citing national security concerns. "It's a mistake. This harms President Trump's credibility and if the Arabs don't respect his credibility, it is more likely that they would be making impossible demands". (New US ambassador Daniel Friedman, however, made it his first stop on arrival in Israel.) Having Trump there at all is a coup of sorts for Netanyahu, even as a private stop without live press coverage.

The suggestion that the Western Wall became a holy site for Jews only after we retook the area in 1967 is preposterous.

  • Leroy Wright