US says Western Wall to remain part of Israel; Palestinians enraged

“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel,” a senior US official said. Palestinians “totally reject” statement.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Senior Trump administration officials outlined their view Friday that Jerusalem’s Western Wall ultimately will be declared a part of Israel, in another declaration sure to inflame passions among Palestinians and others in the Middle East.

Although they said the ultimate borders of the Israeli capital must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the officials — speaking ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the region — essentially ruled out any scenario that didn’t maintain Israeli control over the holy site.

“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement,” a senior administration official said. Another official later added by email, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the vice president’s upcoming trip.

Abbas adviser: US outside the peace process

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, reacted indignantly to the comments.

“We will not accept any changes on the borders of east Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1967,” Abu Rdeneh told The Associated Press.

The IDF captured eastern Jerusalem, including the holy sites, in the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel was under attack by the surrounding Arab countries, threatening to annihilate the Jewish state. Jordan, which occupied the Old City for 19 years, also joined in the assault but was defeated.

“This statement proves once again that this American administration is outside the peace process,” Abu Rdeneh stated. “The continuation of this American policy, whether the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, or moving the American embassy, or such statements, by which the United States decides unilaterally on the issues of the final status negotiations, are a violation of international law and strengthen the Israeli occupation. For us, this is unacceptable. We totally reject it. And we totally denounce it.”

Pence plans to visit the Western Wall next week. Administration officials said he would be accompanied by a rabbi to preserve the spiritual nature of his planned visit, which would be conducted in a similar manner to when President Donald Trump visited in May.

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Pence plans to depart for the Middle East on Tuesday after presiding over the Senate’s vote on a sweeping tax overhaul. The vice president will meet Wednesday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo and then travel to Israel. Pence’s two-plus days in Israel will include meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a speech at the Knesset and a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

PA in ‘full incitement mode’

According to Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority has been in “full incitement mode” since Trump’s announcement that the US now recognizes Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Marcus told World Israel News, “The PA is saying that the US and its President will end up in the dust bin of history. Jerusalem is ours and will remain ours so from their perspective it’s invalid and needs a response. They called for a day of rage and violence and said that everyone must rise up against this.” In effect, Marcus said, “They are calling for Muslims to attack American interests anywhere in the world.”

In June, Abbas adviser Mahmoud Al-Habbash, in a sermon at al Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, told worshipers that Islam requires its followers to die for every stone of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

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