Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Israel 'shocked' over Trump aide's Western Wall comments


When Tillerson was nominated for secretary of state, Conservative Review was one of the few news outlets to report on his ties to despotic Arab nations, some of which do not even recognize Israel's existence.

"The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock", an Israel official said, according to Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump at the White House in February.

According to Israel's Channel 2 News, a member of the U.S. delegation preparing for Trump's visit made the comment about the wall when Israeli officials suggested a photographer shoot video of the President during a proposed visit to the site.

Debate over whether the United States should move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem again flared, while a separate row over the city's Western Wall - the holiest site where Jews can pray - also caused waves.

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who will be in Israel during Trump's visit, was reportedly "furious" about Tillerson's comments on the embassy.

"What are you talking about?" It's none of your business. It's not your territory.

Friedman is an orthodox Jew who has raised funds for a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank that Israel captured together with East Jerusalem 50 years ago.

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Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior member of Netanyahu's coalition government, voiced concern Monday that "there has been a kind of change in the spirit" of Trump's statements since he was elected.

Binyamin Netanyahu told US President Donald Trump not to move the US embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Fox News foreign correspondent Conor Powell reported Monday afternoon.

The biggest point of contention between the two allies has been over whether Trump would keep his campaign pledge to move the American embassy. Palestinians and most of the worldwide community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

"From a summary of a meeting between Ambassador Dermer and National Security Advisor-designate Flynn on January 16, 2017 (by Jacob Nagel): '[Dermer] explained why moving the embassy would help advance peace and not the opposite".

"The Americans are delaying, and the Prime Minister doesn't want to commit [political] suicide over this right now", Bitan told Israel Radio. Current US policy is that East Jerusalem's status should be determined by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The spat reportedly erupted during preparations for Trumps visit to the region next week. Having a fight over the Western Wall might have arisen out of that frustration, at least indirectly.

If it did happen - and if it didn't, then Bitan's remarks would be odd indeed - this is a unusual manifestation of sore feelings for both sides. Just as he convinced Trump's predecessors, we have no doubt that he will convince the Trump administration that vis-a-vis a pragmatic Netanyahu, there is no Palestinian partner.

To make matters more conflicted, the new USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, arrived on Monday to take up his post. "It makes many of us - who are hoping for a change in U.S. -Israel relations - nervous", Foxman, the current Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, told Jewish Insider "I can not believe that the traditionally pro-Palestinian functionaries in the American Consulate in Jerusalem are making the decisions on the Kotel and Jerusalem". Both sides have plenty of reasons to paper over this incident, and the quicker the better.

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