In the wake of the denial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to accompany President Donald Trump to the Western Wall next week, a United States official contended that the wall is not part of Israel.
“The Western Wall is not your territory, but part of the [Palestinian’s] West Bank,” the American official told Israeli officials, according to CBN News.
The contention was not taken well by Israelis, who reportedly shouted back in retaliation to the claim.
"The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock," an Israel official commented on the exchange, according to Reuters.
In an exclusive interview with The Brody File on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley made forcefully clear that the Western Wall in Jerusalem belongs to Israel.
"I don’t know what the policy of the administration is, but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it…we’ve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel," she stated.
David Rubin, the former mayor of the Israeli city of Shiloh, believes President Trump going to the Western Wall without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clearly an attempt not to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
"Being that the president is coming to Israel on the day before Jerusalem Day when we commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem, if ... he's not going to come to the Western Wall with the prime minister accompanying him then there clearly is a problem here," he tells OneNewsNow.
Rubin says there can be no evenhandedness when it comes to a relationship with Israel compared to the Palestinian Authority, which he describes as "basically the quasi-governmental front for Islamic terrorism."
"I don't see how you can equate the two and still be honest and fair and on the side on right, on the side of correctness in the Middle East," says Rubin. "And truly, it would be a thumb in the eye of Israel not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital coming the day before Jerusalem Day as he is."
Israel’s through and through
As Trump prepares to visit Israel in several days, tension over the rejection of the request reported by Israel’s Channel 2 TV has taken a back seat to the dispute over the ownership of what many call the Wailing Wall – or Kotel – which has been considered one of the most significant sites for Christian and Jewish people, whose holy books speak of the sacred edifice.
“For thousands of years, Jewish people from around the world have come to pray at the wall,” CBN News’ Julie Stahl explained. “It's the closest they have to praying at the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism.”
Israel’s claim to the Western Wall does not just reach back millennia, but more recently, when its military declared victory over the area.
“Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war,” Fox News informed. “It considers the entire city to be its eternal capital, and next week is set to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of what it calls the unification of Jerusalem. However, the international community does not recognize Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of a future independent state.”
During the eight years of former President Barack Obama’s pro-Palestinian foreign policy, Israelis had to defend their right to access or build settlements in the disputed West Bank – contesting an anti-Israel stance that many pro-Israel conservatives in America hoped was a thing of the past with the onset of the Trump administration.
“In December, the Obama administration failed to veto a U.N. resolution that said Israel had ‘no validity’ in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the eastern sector of Jerusalem,” Stahl recounted. “But Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has stood firm against anti-Israel sentiments at the U.N.”
Contrary to the U.S. official’s claim about the Western Wall, David Friedman, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Israel, is heading straight to the holy site from the airport in order to pray, asserting that the wall is undisputedly Israel’s.
"The Western Wall is the holiest place in the entire Jewish world," Friedman impressed, according to CBN News.
This week’s spat over the Western Wall has somewhat dampened the optimism that emanated around Trump’s highly anticipated visit to Israel next week.
“Israeli officials appear to be growing increasingly nervous over Trump's visit, when he is expected to make an attempt at re-launching long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians,” Fox New announced.
However, all of the pro-Israel priorities Trump has tallied up over the past several months are apparently still on the agenda.
“On the campaign trail, Trump voiced solidly pro-Israel positions,” the conservative news source added. “His campaign platform made no mention of an independent Palestinian state. He showed little concern about Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians, expressed support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
And with the U.S. Embassy and the Western Wall apparently on the itinerary, what Trump does in Jerusalem will be eagerly watched by many.
“One focal point of President Trump's visit next week is bound to be Jerusalem,” CBN’s Stahl pointed out. “He's arriving as Israel prepares to celebrate Israel's victory and a reunited Jerusalem following the Six-Day War. Israelis hope that Trump will honor his campaign promise either to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's united capital or announce a move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.”
With the back-and-forth, many pro-Israel Americans and Israelis are apprehensive about what will take place next week.
“Many Israelis expected the Trump visit would bolster Israel's position on Jerusalem and the peace talks,” Stahl continued. “Now, some are anxious about what may happen next week.”
Adding more uncertainty as to what will happen in the upcoming days, Fox News Foreign Correspondent Connor Powell posted a concerning tweet earlier this week.
"Everyone, I've spoken to in DC that has been briefed on the Jerusalem Embassy move says Netanyahu told Trump not to move the embassy at this time," Powell posted on Twitter Monday.
However, Netanyahu’s office immediately rejected the claim as false.
In addition, the prime minister’s office offered more evidence that the social media posting by Fox News was inaccurate.
“The firm denial coming from the prime minister's office was backed by a rare and unusual move,” the Jerusalem Post reported. “The statement released by the office included a transcript from Netanyahu's meeting with Trump in Washington, which took place this February, acting as proof that the report provided by Powell was false. “
Here is what the transcript that outlined a summary of the White House lunch between Netanyahu and Trump stated:
“President Trump was asked about the embassy and explained that it (moving the embassy) will not cause bloodshed in the region, like he has been warned against (President Trump),'” the transcript reads, according to the Post.
This account was corroborated by the Jerusalem daily.
“Netanyahu on Monday called again on Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem, on the same day that his controversial Israel envoy pick David Friedman arrives in Israel to begin his tenure,” the Jerusalem Post’s Joy Bernard announced.