Israel fuming at US's concern over embassy move to Jerusalem

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded, "Israel's position has been stated many times to the American administration and to the world".

An official in Netanyahu's office said the us comment was "received with astonishment" and that Israel had asked the White House for an explanation.

Palestinian and other Arab leaders have warned the Trump administration that moving the USA embassy to Jerusalem would risk stirring popular anger and possible unrest, as the Palestinians view the city's eastern half as their capital and because of the city's significance to Muslims.

A diplomatic spat on Monday erupted between USA 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.

"I think it'll be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks and most certainly...whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction", Tillerson told NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.

There are ongoing rumors and undertones that it is the Israeli administration, and not the White House, which is delaying the move. Palestinians and most of the worldwide community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The implication has been that Netanyahu - while unable to say so publicly for fear of alienating his support base - hopes that Trump will not keep his pledge.

Visiting the Wall: According to a report by Israel's Channel 2, the US advance team rebuffed a request from Netanyahu's team to accompany Trump while he visits the Western Wall.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would not only keep an unequivocal campaign promise but would also be in line with USA law, which three successive administrations have chosen not to observe over the past 18 years, by passing six-monthly national security waivers.

Netanyahu is reportedly pushing to deliver a joint speech with Trump at Masada, another historical site in Israel, rather than just the introduction he is now slated for.

Separately, a reported comment by a U.S. official helping prepare Trump's visit also led to Israeli criticism, with the official allegedly telling Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall was part of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state and past peace proposals have proposed splitting the city between East and West Jerusalem, or creating an internationally governed city. But apparently the request was denied and according to Israeli television, a US official said the Western Wall "is not your territory, but part of the West Bank".

Separately, Israeli officials have reacted angrily to reports in local media that representatives of the American consulate had suggested the Western Wall did not belong to Israel. Trump would need to sign the waiver by June 1 to preserve the status quo.

He has also advocated moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Friedman arrived Monday and immediately visited the Western Wall, praying there and kissing the sacred site.

The rival claims to east Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and often boil over into violence.

He is also scheduled to visit the Wailing Wall in East Jerusalem and make an address at the Masada.

  • Leroy Wright