Trump optimistic during historic visit to Western Wall

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the word "peace" six times in his welcoming remarks, when he talked about the US President's trip as a "historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace" and envisioned a day when an Israeli prime minister would be able to follow in Trump's footsteps between Tel Aviv and Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

On Monday Palestinians gathered to protest against Mr Trump's visit, and over conditions in Israeli prisons, at military checkpoints around the West Bank.

Trump made headlines in his previous press conference when he denied mentioning Israel in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak earlier this month.

Trump initially sparked deep concern among Palestinians when he backed away from the long USA commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict.

The two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories forms part of Mr Trump's first foreign trip as U.S. president.

On Monday, more than 20 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank during clashes with Israeli forces as they protested in solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners, while Israeli soldiers reportedly shot and injured a Palestinian in the blockaded Gaza Strip amid protests on the border.

The US president was unaccompanied by any Israeli leaders when he visited the Western Wall.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people", Trump said. "Our problem is the occupation and the settlements and the fact that Israel does not recognize the Palestinian state".

"I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal", Trump said.

Similarly, the issue was not raised in any of Trump's public comments in Israel on Monday.

Much of central and southern Jerusalem was shut down to allow the presidential motorcade of around 60 vehicles to make its way from Trump's hotel to the town, just eight km (five miles) to the south. During that trip Clinton visited Bethlehem, and he remains the only United States president to have visited Gaza.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

Trump and his family on Monday visited the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews pray in Jerusalem.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit.

"We understood from the American team trusted with the president's security that the presence of the tent causes them a security headache, but it's not certain that's the main reason for reducing the hours of the visit in the city".

The ancient stones are in a part of Jerusalem that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel considers the entire city to be its capital while the global community says the future of east Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians, must be resolved through negotiations.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. After Israel and the Palestinian territories, Trump will head to the Vatican along with Brussels and Italy for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 meetings.

  • Leroy Wright