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".

Since his inauguration, Trump has faced a flood of warnings from top Arab diplomats and a personal appeal from Jordan's King Abdullah to not move the United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. A statement released yesterday argued that the move accelerate the peace process "by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel".

The report led Netanyahu to issue an angry rebuttal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accompanied by US President Donald Trump, delivers a statement during a visit to the White House in Washington, May 3, 2017.

Earlier in the day, Conor Powell posted on Twitter, "Everyone I've spoken to in DC that has been briefed on #Jerusalem embassy move says #Netanyahu told #Trump not to move embassy at this time".

At this stage, he will work out of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and will live in the ambassador's residence in Herzliya.

Sheldon Adelson is probably fed up with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Separately, Israeli officials reacted angrily to reports in local media that representatives of the United States consulate had suggested the Western Wall in east Jerusalem did not belong to Israel.

"It's not your territory", Israeli television quoted the unnamed official as having said. "It's part of the West Bank", said the White House official, according to Channel 2.




Trump is planning on visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, the holiest Jewish prayer site. It seems this time that Netanyahu, who showed restraint on the matter of settlement construction and even persuaded his rival to lower his tone on the matter, understands that moving the embassy at a time when Israel is expected to look like a seeker of peace isn't a very good idea. The report said the comment prompted shouting from the Israeli delegation helping with preparations for Trump's visit.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all foreign countries to base their embassies there. "It's part of the West Bank", Israeli television reported on Monday night.

A White House spokesman later told CNN: "These comments were not authorized by the White House".

A bankruptcy lawyer by profession, Friedman has no previous diplomatic experience.

Among the main bones of contention are Netanyahu insisting that the Palestinians recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and the Palestinians calling for a halt to Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

It's unclear whether Tillerson is reflecting the viewpoint of the president, or simply discussing how he sees the embassy move in the grand scheme of his vision for the Middle East.

"The President has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we can not advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine", Tillerson said.

Friedman, who visited the Western Wall after his arrival on Monday, said Trump had given him "the unequivocal and unambiguous mandate to support the state of Israel in every way and in all ways".

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