Disputes Arise between Netanyahu, Trump over Relocation of US Embassy

A senior member of a USA delegation preparing for President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Israel reportedly snapped that the Western Wall is "not your territory" while discussing details of the president's visit to the Jerusalem holy site with with Israeli counterparts on Monday.

It maintained that while "the comment that the Western Wall is part of the West Bank was received with astonishment", the Israeli government "is certain that the comment contradicts President Trump's policy as expressed in his fierce opposition to the latest UN Security Council resolution", which criticized the Israeli presence in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The comment was in response to an Israeli request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to join President Trump when he visits the Western Wall.

It is not clear who, exactly, the "senior American official" was, but Israel's Ha'aretz identified the culpable parties as "diplomats stationed at the US consulate in Jerusalem".

Despite those warnings, some of Trump's top advisers are urging him to make good on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announce plans to move the embassy there during his visit next week, and Trump has yet to reach a decision, two White House officials confirmed.

A surprise controversy erupted Tuesday over USA policy towards Israel days ahead of a visit by President Donald Trump, with the potential move of the American embassy to Jerusalem again making waves.

The United States does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the area, making Trump's visit to the Kotel, the first by a sitting American president, politically fraught.

Friedman is an orthodox Jew who has raised funds for a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

This allegedly led to an outright shouting match between the two parties, with the Israelis maintaining that the Western Wall was "territory holy to Israel". "The report on Fox News is a lie" and "Netanyahu supports moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem", his office said in a statement.

"The president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we can not advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine", Tillerson added.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the global community.

Trump promised during his presidential campaign to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital and remarked on the pledge in an interview the day before his inauguration, saying: "You know, I'm not a person who breaks promises".

The issues arose as Trump's controversial new ambassador to Israel David Friedman presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem. "On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting an historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel".

On the campaign trail, Trump voiced solidly pro-Israel positions. "Israel has turned to to the U.S. [to discuss this further]".

A bankruptcy lawyer by profession, Friedman has no previous diplomatic experience.

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.

Netanyahu told Friedman his immediate visit to the Western Wall was "a strong gesture of solidarity". "And so I think in large measure the President is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process".

Among the main bones of contention are Netanyahu insisting that the Palestinians recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and the Palestinians calling for a halt to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

  • Leroy Wright


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