New US envoy to Israel officially takes up role

India remains firmly committed to assist the Palestinian people in achieving their developmental goals, says President Mukherjee

India remains firmly committed to assist the Palestinian people in achieving their developmental goals, says President Mukherjee

At a White House press conference Tuesday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say whether the USA considers the Western Wall to be part of Israel, saying the matter "sounds like a policy decision".

Spicer said the Western Wall is in fact in Jerusalem, but would not say it is in Israel.

The Western Wall, the holiest site of Jewish prayer, is located in part of the territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

The President's Israel trip schedule: "The President will continue on to Jerusalem where he will meet with President (Reuven) Rivlin and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem".

A Trump Administration official recently angered Prime Minister Netanyahu's representatives by telling them the Kotel is part of the "occupied West Bank", openly disregarding both the Israeli annexation 50 years ago and the U.S. position on eastern Jerusalem being a disputed territory.

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

Israeli officials appear to be increasingly concerned over Trump visit, during which he is expected to attempt to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. An official, later identified by Israel's Channel 2 as David Berns, political counselor at the USA consulate in Jerusalem, reportedly snapped, "This isn't your territory".

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Pressed on whether the Trump administration saw the wall as being in Israel, McMaster demurred, saying it was a "policy decision". The wall lies underneath the Al Aqsa Mosque, or Temple Mount, which is one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Speaking after the ceremony, Friedman did not directly respond to the dispute over the Western Wall but pledged to "support Israel in every way". He further asked the president to "begin to fulfill his campaign pledge" to move the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. "Israel has made contact with the United States on this matter", he said.

The official said Trump still feels the accord is a bad deal for the American economy.

Shapiro called it "meaningful" and reflective of strong relations that Israel is part of the trip.

Israel's Channel 2 identified him 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 involved in the row. "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 and the Palestinian Authority both claim Jerusalem as their capital.

"We are convinced that this statement is contrary to President Trump's policy ..."

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