Israel offers concessions to Palestinians ahead of Trump visit

President Trump's plan to become the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall has been welcomed by Israeli government officials.

The walled Old City lies in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel from Jordan in the Six-Day War 50 years ago. The global community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The White House later said the official's comments "do not represent the position of the United States". The worldwide community has said the status of Jerusalem must be settled in peace negotiations.

Mr Trump arrives in Israel today following his visit to Saudi Arabia, and he will hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day in Jerusalem.

The president's visit will include a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance center, Bethlehem and the Western Wall.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel did not occupy Jerusalem, but instead "liberated" it. "It will leave an impression on me forever".

"It makes us very happy to know that Israel's most important ally recognizes the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people all around the world", Rivlin says.

The official added, "We are convinced that this view is contrary to the policies of President Trump as can be seen by his strong objection to the last U.N. Security Council resolution", referring to a December resolution that called for an end to Israeli settlements which the Obama administration declined to veto.

But the remark about the Western Wall's location outraged Israelis.

Israelis celebrate the "reunification" of Jerusalem in 1967 as a national holiday.

Muslims refer to the same compound as al-Haram al-Sharif, home to al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Trump did not visit the Muslim sites above the Western Wall.

First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner joined the president at the Israeli visit, which also included a trip to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Trump was accompanied by the Western Wall's rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitz, during the visit.

Trump said during the presidential campaign that the best way to negotiate an agreement is taking what he called an "objective" approach to the serious and extremely emotional issues keeping both sides far apart.

On the Israeli side, Netanyahu heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in the country's history, and members of his coalition were elated with Trump's election. He placed a note between the massive stones, a centuries-old tradition of supplication.

In their press conference, Trump and Netanyahu reiterated their plans to work together. Daniel, thanks so much for speaking with us.

Referencing his earlier visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump said he believed "a new level of partnership is possible" in the Middle East.

Israeli officials say they are largely in the dark about what ideas Trump might present for peace or what concessions he may demand.

"We have the opportunity to advance the peace discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said aboard Air Force One just before landing.

  • Zachary Reyes