‘Western Wall is not your territory,’ US official tells Israelis

A bitter argument ensued Monday evening following a US official’s statement to Israelis preparing for Trump’s visit, saying that the “Western Wall is not your territory.” The White House, responding to media queries, said the statement was not authorized by the president and does not represent US policy.

Israeli officials were shocked Monday evening by belligerent statements coming from US President Donald Trump’s team in charge of planning his upcoming trip to Israel next week, indicating a possible diplomatic crisis.

According to a Channel 2 news report, the drama unfolded when the Israelis expressed a desire on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accompany Trump to the Western Wall and to bring photographers. A visit to the holy site is on the president’s agenda.

The US official allegedly gave a harsh response, saying, “No way. Why is this your business?”

The Western Wall, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is in “disputed territory,” the official reportedly said. “This is not your territory, but rather part of the West Bank.”

A vicious argument reportedly ensued, with Israeli officials asserting that Jerusalem is indeed “territory holy to Israel.”

Netanyahu: This is Not Trump’s Policy

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the report, saying they were absolutely astonished by the Trump team’s comments, Channel 2 said. However, the report continues, Netanyahu feels quite certain that these belligerent statements do not reflect Trump’s policy, especially considering Trump’s vehement opposition to United Nations Resolution 2334, which passed in December with an abstention from the Obama administration, condemning Jewish communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

“I have said on numerous occasions that in a Trump Administration, the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the one true capital of Israel,” Trump posted on Facebook during the presidential election campaign. “The United Nations’ attempt to disconnect the State of Israel from Jerusalem is a one-sided attempt to ignore Israel’s 3,000-year bond to its capital city, and is further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the UN.”

“Jerusalem is the enduring capital of the Jewish People and the overwhelming majority of Congress has voted to recognize Jerusalem as just that,” he stated.

Mixed Messages?

The White House responded to queries from several Israeli news sites, saying that the official’s comments were not authorized by the president and do not represent the position of the US administration.

Trump has vowed repeatedly during his election campaign and again following his victory to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most recently, however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told NBC‘s Meet the Press that Trump was proceeding very cautiously with regard to the embassy move, especially considering his desire to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“(Trump) wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine, and so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process,” Tillerson said.

Meanwhile, with all these mixed messages, Israelis are waiting anxiously to see what the US leader has in mind and what will transpire during his visit next week.

By: Adina Katz, World Israel News