A row erupted Tuesday over U.S. policy toward Israel days ahead of a visit by President Donald Trump, with fresh questions raised over the White House's approach to the ultra-sensitive status of Jerusalem.
While in Israel he is expected to announce confidence building measures for brokering a peace deal under new terms, where the US would recognize all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in exchange for throwing support behind the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Further clouding the administration's stance on the issue was a recent diplomatic spat after an unidentified US diplomatic official angrily denied an Israeli request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be allowed to accompany Trump to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the global community.
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. "On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting an historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel".More news: [ May 15, 2017 ] Boko Haram terrorists kill 11 in Maiduguri Top News
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. Klein elaborated that in recent meetings at the White House he told Trump aides, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, that "moving the embassy would make the Palestinians and the Arab world understand that Trump is serious and doing what's right and that the jig is up". "It's part of the West Bank".
The argument over the Western Wall is not the only complication to come up while planning Trump's trip to Israel. In addition, Ramallah estimates that Trump intends to accept the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 as one of the bases for a regional initiative on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
An official in Netanyahu's office said the US comment was "received with astonishment" and that Israel had asked the White House for an explanation. "Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem would not harm the peace process".
On Monday, Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, arrived in Israel to take up his new post and traveled straight to the Western Wall to pray. He has also accepted an invitation to visit Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
American media outlets didn't pick up on the story immediately, but the Associated Press did note the "spat" this afternoon, as well as the "astonishment" from an official in Netanyahu's office over the remarks. "Israel has made contact with the USA on this matter", the official said.
Bennett said he was not sure why Trump has changed his rhetoric. It's a very important diplomatic declaration that will be considered a unilateral move even before arrangements to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.