Shock over Western Wall

US diplo: It’s not in Israel

New York Post - - NEWS - By YARON STEINBUCH With Wires

A diplo­matic spat erupted be­tween the United States and Israel days be­fore Pres­i­dent Trump’s planned visit af­ter an Amer­i­can of­fi­cial de­clared that the Western Wall — the holi­est site in Ju­daism — is not part of the coun­try.

An Is­raeli team that joined US of­fi­cials on a scout­ing trip Mon­day re­quested that Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ac­com­pany Trump and his fam­ily to the site.

“This isn’t your ter­ri­tory. This is in the West Bank. It is a pri­vate visit by the pres­i­dent, and it’s not your busi­ness,” re­sponded one US of­fi­cial, ac­cord­ing to the Times of Israel.

Israel’s Chan­nel 2 iden­ti­fied the of­fi­cial as David Berns, the po­lit­i­cal coun­selor at the US Con­sulate in Jerusalem, and said he was ac­com­pa­nied by eco­nomic ad­viser Jonathan Shrier, who also was in- volved in the row.

Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice ex­pressed shock at the in­cen­di­ary state­ment and sought a clar­i­fi­ca­tion from Washington be­cause Trump has op­posed a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that re­jected Is­raeli rights in Jerusalem,

“The com­ments about the Western Wall were not au­tho­rized com­mu­ni­ca­tion and they do not rep­re­sent the po­si­tion of the United States and cer­tainly not of the pres­i­dent,” the White House told the Is­raeli pa­per.

On Tues­day, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told re­porters that the Western Wall is “clearly in Jerusalem.”

The brouhaha co­in­cided with the ar­rival of Trump’s am­bas­sador to Israel, David Friedman, who promptly vis­ited the Western Wall to pray for a successful visit by the pres­i­dent.

“We’re a bit tired, but we wanted to come straight to the holi­est place in the en­tire Jewish world, the ‘ Ko­tel Hama’ar

avi,’ the Western Wall,” said Friedman, an Or­tho­dox Jew.

Friedman then met Ne­tanyahu, who wel­comed him to “Jerusalem, our eter­nal cap­i­tal.”

The Chan­nel 2 re­port said that Berns’ job might be in jeop­ardy be­cause the in­ci­dent em­bar­rassed the White House ahead of Trump’s 24-hour visit, which starts Mon­day.

Israel cap­tured the Old City and the rest of East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity does not rec­og­nize Israel’s an­nex­a­tion of East Jerusalem, which the Pales­tini­ans seek as the cap­i­tal of a future in­de­pen­dent state.

Trump will be the first sit­ting pres­i­dent to visit the Western Wall. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster said “no Is­raeli lead­ers” would be join­ing him.

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