Trump weighs embassy move's effect on Mideast peace process

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

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.

There are ongoing rumors and undertones that it is the Israeli administration, and not the White House, which is delaying the move.

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?"

A White House press spokeswoman confirmed the President would meet with Abbas but could not immediately provide more information.

The new US Ambassador, David Friedman, just arrived in Israel and his first visit was to the Western Wall where he said he "prayed for the president".

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all foreign countries to base their embassies there. The Old City is also home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces after a protest near the illegal settlement of Beit El, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 11, 2017.

"The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock", said the official in Netanyahu's office.

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Speaking of Trump, he said: "His love for and commitment to the state of Israel is rock solid and it enjoys his highest priority". His campaign platform made no mention of an independent Palestinian state.

According to the report, top United States officials close to the president warned that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital could have broad regional risks, echoing recommendations from leaders in the region, including Jordan's King Abdullah who warned Trump that an embassy move would have a negative impact on the peace process.

Israel assumed control over all of Jerusalem in 1967 following the Six-Day War.

The President is scheduled to fly into Ben Gurion worldwide airport on 22 May, 12 miles south-east of Tel Aviv, before being whisked away to Jerusalem by helicopter.

Netanyahu told Friedman his immediate visit to the Western Wall was "a strong gesture of solidarity". "I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip".

Earlier Monday, a correspondent from Fox News tweeted that Netanyahu told Trump not to move the embassy at this time.

Netanyahu's office later put out a statement saying the Trump administration has long known their position. "I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement, to mediate, to arbitrate ― anything they'd like to do", Trump said.

Israeli Prime Minister's Office on Monday released a record of a previous meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump, in a bid to reinforce Netanyahu's call for Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

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