Trump’s national security adviser sidestepped questions about whether Jerusalem’s Western Wall is part of Israel, saying it “sounds like a policy decision.”
Asked if President Donald Trump considers the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem as part of Israel, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster replied, “That sounds like a policy decision.”
The status of sovereignty over the wall became a political issue between the US and Israel earlier this week, casting a cloud over the highly anticipated visit by the new president.
According to a report Monday evening on Israel’s Channel 2, the drama unfolded when the Israelis expressed a desire on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accompany Trump on his stopover at the Western Wall.
The US official, now identified as David Berns, political counselor at the US Consulate in Jerusalem, responded harshly, saying, “No way. Why is this your business?”
The Western Wall, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is in “disputed territory,” Berns reportedly said. “This is nTterritory, but rather part of the West Bank.”
A vicious argument reportedly ensued, with Israeli officials asserting that Jerusalem is indeed “territory holy to Israel.”
Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in the 1967 Six Day War against the surrounding Arab nations bent on the Jewish state’s destruction. Numerous festivities are planned for next week in the Israeli capital in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification.
Will Trump Mark a Change in US policy on Jerusalem?
Indeed, Trump himself has described Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of the Jewish People.”
McMaster’s brief comment, however, appeared to be consistent with longstanding US policy that the status of Jerusalem is an issue to be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Although Trump’s pledge to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, made during the presidential election campaign, could be on hold, US officials have hinted that he might make some other gesture to show Washington’s new thinking on the city’s status.
Trump’s signal could be as symbolic as identifying the city as “Jerusalem, Israel,” on official White House documents and photographs while he is there, according to sources familiar with planning for the trip. They weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Previous administrations have declined to identify Jerusalem as being in Israel, out of concern for the diplomatic repercussions.
By: AP and World Israel News