Trump Itinerary Confirmed; Israeli Officials Continue to Urge Embassy Relocation
The White House officially confirmed US President Donald Trump’s itinerary for his first official visit to Israel on May 22-23, including a visit to the Western Wall.
President Trump will arrive in Jerusalem on May 22 where he will meet with President Reuven Rivlin and proceed to lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Recent reports have hinted to Trump potentially giving a speech at Masada, but the plan was canceled on account of the desert heat. The Israel Museum in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem was selected instead.
“The president will deliver remarks at the Israel Museum and celebrate the unique history of Israel and of the Jewish people while reaffirming America’s unshakable bond with our closest ally in the Middle East,” said US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster at a White House press briefing.
Following a meeting with Trump on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara will host President Trump and the First Lady at a private dinner.
“The following morning the president will meet President Abbas in Bethlehem where he will convey his administration’s eagerness to facilitate an agreement that ends the conflict and he will urge Palestinian leaders to take steps that will help lead to peace,” continued McMaster. “And he will visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and say a prayer at the Western Wall.”
When asked by a reporter about whether Trump believes that the Western Wall is part of Israel, McMaster answered that this “sounds like a policy decision.” He explained that no Israeli leaders would join Trump at the Wall and that he would be visiting the site on account of its connection with the three great monotheistic religions and that he intended to convey a message of unity against the enemies of the civilized world.
McMaster’s response was particularly significant in light of a Channel Two report on Tuesday disclosing an apparent diplomatic spat between the Prime Minister’s Office and a member of the delegation conducting preparations ahead of Trump’s visit to Israel. The diplomat reportedly refused Israeli assistance in coordinating the visit to the Wall and claimed that the site is not in Israeli territory, rather that it is part of the “West Bank.”
The incident took place on the day that US Ambassador David Friedman officially assumed office in Israel and had prayed at the Western Wall upon his arrival from the US.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter wrote on Facebook that “for 70 years, Israel has paid the price of Arab resistance to the Partition Plan that took Jerusalem out of the Jewish state” and that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would consequently be “a step of political and historical significance for the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the free world.”
“You have the ability in your hands and you the courage in your character to do it and move the embassy to Jerusalem,” continued Dichter. “This step will make it clear to the world and the Arabs that there is a price for the steps they have taken to expel the Jews from Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.”