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Controversy over Trump's Israel policy continues ahead of visit

Controversy over Trump's Israel policy continues ahead of visit

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say whether the U.S. regards the Western Wall as part of Israel during a press conference at the White House Tuesday.

The row erupted a few days before the first official visit of US President Donald Trump to the region, Xinhua reported.

His walkback on the alliance with Israel was questioned by leaders of both parties, who were disappointed that he appears to be breaking his promise to recognize Jerusalem (and the Western Wall) as part of Israel.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 in moves never recognised by the worldwide community. The President will meet with Palestinian President Abbas in Bethlehem and with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

A Fox News reporter cited sources saying Netanyahu had asked Trump not to move the embassy now, leading the prime minister to issue an angry rebuttal. A lawyer by trade and an orthodox Jew, he's previously raised funds for a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank captured by Israel 50 years ago.

"It would advance it by fixing a historic wrong and shatter the Palestinian illusion that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel".

USA ambassador to Israel David Friedman, centre, visits the Western Wall on Monday. "They do not reflect the USA position and certainly not the president's position".

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According to Channel 2, the same official told members of Netanyahu's team that Trump's visit to the Western Wall was a private visit and also added: "No way, why is this your business?"

David Friedman, the new USA ambassador to Israel, gave his first interview since he landed in Israel on Monday to - where else?

"The Western Wall is obviously one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith", Spicer said. "It's part of the West Bank", said the White House official, according to Channel 2. Jerry Johnson, President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters; Dr. John Hagee, Founder and Chairman, Christians United for Israel; Star Parker, President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education; Penny Nance, CEO, Concerned Women for America; Gordon Robertson, CEO, The Christian Broadcasting Network; Dr. James Dobson, President, Family Talk Radio; Gary Bauer, Washington Director, Christians United for Israel Action Fund; and Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated talk show host.

The former bankruptcy lawyer has expressed scepticism over the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of USA peace efforts.

Separately, Israeli officials have reacted angrily to reports in local media that representatives of the American consulate had suggested the Western Wall did not belong to Israel.

"Israel's position has been stated many times to the American government and to the world", he said. "We'll move the embassy, just give us time", the official was quoted as saying.

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