Israel Tensions Rise After Trump Official Says Western Wall in West Bank

David Friedman was sworn-in as the US ambassador to Israel during a ceremony in Washington DC

The angry exchanges took place while Israeli officials asked whether Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should accompany Trump as he visits the Jerusalem site, which is the holiest location where Jews are allowed to pray in the city.

Trump will be in Israel next week on the first foreign trip since his inauguration - and speculation has mounted he would make an announcement on the embassy's move during the visit.

It was the latest sign of the Israeli right's growing disenchantment with Trump after having rejoiced in his election.

The President continued, "We are looking forward to welcoming President Trump in less than a week".

The report led Netanyahu to issue an angry rebuttal.

Mr. Trump had previously said that there was a "very good chance" for peace in the region when he hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House last month.

It later annexed East Jerusalem and claims the entire city as its undivided capital.

Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war.

No sitting USA president has ever visited the Western Wall, which is not officially recognized by the global community or by the part of Israel, although Israel considers Jerusalem its capital.

The rival claims to Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and no countries now have their embassies in occupied Jerusalem, instead basing them in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.

Asked during a briefing Tuesday to clarify the administration's position on the Western Wall, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the reported comments do not reflect us policy.

McMaster's brief comment appeared to be consistent with long-standing United States policy that the status of Jerusalem is an issue to be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the report, the diplomat told his counterparts that Israel does not have jurisdiction over the area, considered the holiest site in Judaism. It said Berns could lose his job over the incident.

The White House quickly backpedaled saying that the comment "was not authorized communication and does not represent the position of the U.S. and certainly not of the president", a senior official told reporters. Separately, an administration official refused to do so in a statement to Conservative Review, declaring that Jerusalem was up for grabs as a "final status issue".

He also later met with Netanyahu.

According to Channel 2, the same official told members of Netanyahu's team that Trump's visit to the Western Wall was a private visit and also added: "No way, why is this your business?"

He has also advocated moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Trump's visit to the site is meant to "highlight the need the unity for the world's three great religions", McMaster said. "His love for and commitment to the State of Israel is rock-solid and it enjoys his highest priority".



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