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Israel demands explanation from White House after spat over Trump trip

Israel demands explanation from White House after spat over Trump trip

A senior member of the US delegation for President Donald Trump's visit to Israel next week reportedly angered Israeli officials when he said the Western Wall was "part of the West Bank".

President Trump is still weighing a campaign pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is trying to gauge its effect on the peace process, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

"The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process", Tillerson said, going on to suggest that Israel itself might be less than fully committed to a move.

Past administrations have said they would move the USA embassy to Jerusalem if Palestine and Israel made peace.

"Israel's position has often been expressed to the American administration and to the world", the statement from the prime minister's office read.

Israel has long pressed nations to move their embassies to Jerusalem; Palestinians, and much of the global community, view east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Trump has already promised Netanyahu that he would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "eternal" capital. It has long urged the global community to relocate embassies there.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Officials are also considering a lesser announcement outlining a United States vision for the future of Jerusalem as Israel's capital without taking any immediate action, created to help Trump save face on his campaign pledge.

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.

The drama unfolded when a senior White House official said that the Western Wall was part of the West Bank and not part of Israel's territory, as Channel 2 reported on Monday.




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 USA consulate in Jerusalem".

According to the report, top U.S. officials close to the president warned that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could have broad regional risks, echoing recommendations from leaders in the region, including Jordan's King Abdullah who warned Trump that an embassy move would have a negative impact on the peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C-R) arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem al-Quds on May 14, 2017.

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

Alongside his visit to Israel, Trump is expected also to meet with Abbas, possibly in P.A. -administered Bethlehem.

The White House distanced itself from the alleged comments, saying in statements to U.S. media that they did not reflect the views of the adminstration.

At this stage, he will work out of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and will live in the ambassador's residence in Herzliya. Trump will visit Saudi Arabia, the location of the two holiest sites in Islam, Jerusalem which houses shrines sacred to Christianity, Islam and Judaism and the Vatican, the seat of the Catholic Church.

Trump has said he hopes to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table to reach a final status agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish-American Friedman is a strong supporter of Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

One focal point of President Trump's visit next week is bound to be Jerusalem.


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