Top Trump aide won't say if Western Wall is part of Israel

Top Trump aide won't say if Western Wall is part of Israel

Hier's remarks came after a press briefing earlier in the day by Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who declined to give direct answers when pressed as to whether the US regards the Western Wall as part of Israel.

As President Donald Trump prepares for an extended overseas trip that will include a stop in Israel, tensions between the Trump administration and the Israelis appear to be at an all-time high.

The Western Wall, the holiest site of Jewish prayer, is located in part of the territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's United Nations ambassador, waded into a diplomatic minefield on Wednesday by asserting that the Western Wall is part of Israel, a deviation from USA policy.

Israel's Channel 2 TV says the Americans rebuffed a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join Trump and told him the site is part of the West Bank and not Israeli territory. Palestinians and most of the worldwide community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Trump remains committed to his campaign pledge to ultimately relocate the U.S. Embassy but his current plan is not to announce a move while on his trip.

The new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stepped out of the diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday.

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He said he's no fan of the Trump administration, but when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian policy, "I don't have anything to criticize". Earlier in the day, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster wouldn't specifically clarify this.

Friedman arrived Monday and immediately visited the Western Wall, praying there and kissing the sacred site. - Israel Hayom, the newspaper funded by Republican casino magnate and on-again-off-again Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson. "We'll move the embassy, just give us time", the official was quoted as saying. "It'll be a topic that's going to be discussed during the president's trip between parties that he meets with". Sovereignty over the city remains a striking point in peace talks.

The Israeli flag waves over the Western Wall.

Trump has two weeks to make that decision, before the embassy automatically moves based on a 1995 USA law mandating the location switch.

He said the Arab countries have adopted a clear position that supports the Palestinian cause during the 28th Arab Summit on March 29, affirming that it would be the same position that Trump would hear during his meetings in Riyadh.

The Palestinians want al-Quds as the capital of their promised future state.

He has also advocated breaking with decades of precedent by moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the divided city of Jerusalem, a prospect deeply alarming to Palestinians who see the occupied eastern half of the city as their future capital.

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