Controversy over Trump Israel policy ahead of visit

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks to the employees at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017.

Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would likely be seen as an unambiguous recognition of Israel's claims to complete territorial control, which could set off a political firestorm.

"We have been saying that we are willing to engage in peace talks and are ready to cooperate with Trump in his efforts to make a peace deal with the Israelis possible on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant worldwide covenants", Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, told Arab News on Sunday.

The rival claims to Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and no countries now have their embassies there, instead basing them in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.

Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and regards the entire city as its eternal capital.

While Trump has not taken any action on his pledge to move the embassy so far, the Palestinian leadership fiercely opposes any such effort, and the global community has warned that it could spark unrest.

Tillerson said Trump is being "very careful" as he weighs the decision to relocate the embassy, a campaign pledge supported by Adelson and other pro-Israel donors on both sides of the aisle. Trump slammed President Barack Obama for not vetoing the resolution, calling it "extremely unfair".

"Israel's position has been stated many times to the American administration and to the world", his office said in a statement.

Trump is reportedly planning to visit the wall in Jerusalem's Old City and Israel's Channel Two reported that Israeli officials offering to help plan the event were told by American counterparts it was not their remit.

Although the battle against terrorist groups and what Tillerson called "Iran's destabilizing activities in the region" are expected to be the main focus, given the invitation list Trump will likely also hear strong-held views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and Jerusalem in particular.

In a final declaration issued at the end of its summit, the Arab League voiced opposition to any plan for the transfer of embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The President is scheduled to fly into Ben Gurion global airport on 22 May, 12 miles south-east of Tel Aviv, before being whisked away to Jerusalem by helicopter.

Friedman is an orthodox Jew who has raised funds for a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. "We believe Israel is willing, we believe you're willing, and if you both are willing, we're going to make a deal", he said at a joint press conference with Abbas. Additionally, he all but ignores the fact that the Palestinian territories are governed by terrorists and terror-supporting regimes, while Israel is a free state and one of the few stable, reliable American allies in the Middle East.

  • Leroy Wright