Disputes Arise between Netanyahu, Trump over Relocation of US Embassy

Trevor Jackson
May 18, 2017

Reported remarks by a Trump administration official rejecting Israel's claim to the Western Wall were "unauthorized" and do not represent the position of President Donald Trump, the White House said.

Trump is expected to arrive in Israel next Monday as part of his Middle East visit in a bid to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

In an unusual move, Netanyahu also partially released the minutes of a meeting he had with Trump in Washington in February, showing he had pressed the new president to move the embassy. Palestinians and most of the worldwide community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Mr. Netanyahu's Office issued a statement that said: "The things published on Fox News are false".

Israel's right-wing had placed high hopes in Trump's presidency following his pledges of ardent support for Israel and a commitment to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

The rival claims to Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and no countries now have their embassies in Jerusalem, instead basing them in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.

Moving the USA embassy to Jerusalem would likely be seen as an unambiguous recognition of Israel's claims to complete territorial control, which could set off a political firestorm.

"It's not your territory", Israeli television quoted the unnamed official as having said.

Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Haley: 'I Believe the Western Wall Is Part of Israel'
The new USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stepped out of the diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday. He also congratulated Friedman for visiting the Western Wall on Monday, saying "it was a strong gesture of solidarity".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released his harshest statement yet to the Trump administration yesterday, correcting the president on Jerusalem and urging him to shatter "the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel". The report said the comment prompted shouting from the Israeli delegation helping with preparations for Trump's visit.

"What are you talking about?" the official reportedly told the Israeli team helping the US prepare for the trip, according to the Times of Israel.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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.

Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, which called on the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy there.

A bankruptcy lawyer by profession, Friedman has no previous diplomatic experience. "Fox News correspondent Conor Powell also tweeted on Monday that "#Netanyahu told #Trump not to move embassy at this time".

Tillerson also appeared to suggest Israel might view the embassy move as "perhaps a distraction".

The spat came on the day the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman - an orthodox Jew - arrived in the country to take up his position. As to the May 20 trip, Abbas is encouraged by the fact that Trump's first visit as president is to Saudi Arabia, and that in this first visit overseas the president also plans to visit the Palestinian Authority.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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