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Israel wants White House to explain U.S. official's Western Wall comment

19 May 2017

The U.S. Embassy is located in Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial center but not its capital.

Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gave President Donald Trump's inauguration its single largest donation at $5 million, is furious about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made on Sunday regarding Trump's campaign promise to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Axios reported.

"The transfer of the USA embassy to Jerusalem does not only not harm the peace process, but the opposite".

The Prime Minister's Office added in its own statement at the end of the transcript, "This is the clear and consistent position of Prime Minister Netanyahu, which he reiterated today".

Israel seized in 1967 the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians want to establish their future state.

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Trump is reportedly planning to visit the wall in Jerusalem's Old City and Israel's Channel Two reported that Israeli officials offering to help plan the event were told by American counterparts it was not their remit.

"The transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem not only will not harm the peace process, but the opposite".

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.

After the report the Prime Minister's Office took the unusual step of releasing minutes from the Netanyahu-Trump meeting to prove that the Prime Minister supports the U.S. embassy move.

Tillerson said Sunday that Trump would seek further guidance on the embassy relocation to determine "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction".

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Jewish-American Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, entered the residence with a marching band playing.

"We are convinced that this remark is in contradiction to the policy of President Trump", the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

After stopping in Saudi Arabia, Trump will visit both Israel and the Palestinian territories, in a bid to strike the Israeli-Palestinian deal that has eluded his predecessors.

President Obama invoked the last such waiver on December 1 past year, so Trump will either have to follow suit on or before June 1, or set in motion steps towards moving the embassy from its current Tel Aviv beachfront location.

Abbas is also at risk of being sidelined by Trump's efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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He is also scheduled to visit the Wailing Wall in East Jerusalem and make an address at the Masada.