National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster declined to answer whether President Donald Trump considered the Western Wall in Jerusalem part of Israel. “That sounds like a policy decision,” he said, laughing.
McMaster told reporters in the White House Briefing Room that the president hoped to use his upcoming trip to Israel, the Vatican, and Saudi Arabia to highlight the unity of the world’s three great monotheistic religions against common threats like terrorism.
On Monday, reports emerged of a spat between U.S. diplomats at the consulate in Jerusalem and their Israeli counterparts over the arrangements for President Trump’s personal visit to the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.
The Western Wall is in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and abuts the Muslim Quarter. The Old City is the site of Israel’s ancient capital, and was home to Jews for millennia before 1948, when the Jordanian army expelled Jews from the city and destroyed the Jewish Quarter. Israel conquered the Old City in a defensive war in 1967 and reunified Jerusalem.
The status of the Western Wall, and the Old City itself, became controversial this past winter, when the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama abstained from UN Security Council 2334, allowing it to pass. That resolution declared Israel’s presence in all of the territories taken in 1967, including Jerusalem, to be a violation of international law.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since taking office, the Trump administration has considered the move but has not yet made a decision.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.