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Western Wall Not Part of Israel

19 May 2017

Israel wants the White House to explain why a USA diplomat preparing President Donald Trump's visit to Jerusalem said Judaism's Holy Western Wall in the east side of the city is part of the occupied West Bank, an Israeli official said on Monday.

President Trump faces pressure from one of his largest donors to deliver on his promise to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at the same time as he seeks to broker peace between the state and the Palestinians.

Trump will arrive in Israel on May 22, when he will visit the Western Wall and meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said in an interview that Trump is concerned about how moving the U.S. embassy would affect the Mideast peace process, VOA News.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office denied the claim on Monday evening, issuing a statement that said: "The things published on Fox News are a lie".

Besides his one-day stay in Israel, President Trump will also visit Saudi Arabia for his first overseas visit since his inauguration in January.

Republican Party mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was "furious" about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made concerning the USA embassy in Israel, sources close to the casino magnate told Axios.

Throughout his campaign, Trump had promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and supported Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory - concepts that are both held in high regard by staunch pro-Israel groups.

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Israel angrily demanded an explanation from the White House, casting a cloud over the highly anticipated visit by the new president, which is being greeted with a mixture of excitement and nervousness by Israeli officials. Every President since then - Republican and Democrat - has waived the embassy move every six months, citing national security concerns. Palestinians and most of the worldwide community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Trump has said he wants Kushner to lead the peace process.

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

Tillerson, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, said Trump is taking a very "deliberative approach" to the issue.

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Israel maintains that conditions meet all global standards, and has so far has refused to negotiate with prisoners. Several hundred Palestinians are being held without charges or trial, in so-called administrative detention.

Palestinians say moving the embassy would be a de facto recognition of Israel's control of all Jerusalem.