Israel releases record of Trump-Netanyahu meeting

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Friedman arrived Monday and immediately visited the Western Wall, praying there and kissing the sacred site.

As the Times of Israel notes, USA presidents have avoided the Western Wall because of the dispute over sovereignty.

At this stage, he will work out of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and will live in the ambassador's residence in Herzliya.

Israel's Channel 2 reported that during a planning meeting between USA and Israeli officials, the Israelis were told that Trump's visit to the Western Wall was private, Israel did not have jurisdiction in the area and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not welcome to accompany Trump there.

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

Netanyahu wanted to join Trump on his visit to the Wall, which is unprecedented for a sitting president.

A source close to the preparations team in Israel told Channel 2 that the statements made by the White House official were received with utter shock by Netanyahu's team.

At this point, the TV report said, a senior American official rudely responded: "What are you talking about?"

According to the report, the Israeli delegation was so angry that members started shouting.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967.

Adding to this, on Thursday, 15 Iyar, Mr. Netanyahu called on all nations to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, Israel's eternal capital. A statement released yesterday argued that the move accelerate the peace process "by smashing the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel". The Old City is also home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The smartest thing President Trump can do on the visit is earn as much credit as possible with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the Israeli public, and other leaders", he said.

The PLO's chief representative in the U.S. said that it "might be a bit too early" for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials appear to be growing increasingly nervous over Trump's visit, when he is expected to make an attempt at relaunching long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

When running for president, Donald Trump offered a standard Republican pledge to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestine Liberation Organization's envoy to the United States said on Monday that it was "too early" for the Trump team to facilitate trilateral meetings with Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli right-wingers have pressed Trump to stick to his pledge to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but the president has backed away since taking office, saying it was still being looked at.

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

Friedman, a fundraiser for settlement causes and vocal critic of liberal Jewish groups, has backtracked from some of his controversial positions.

Scott Lasensky, a former senior adviser on Israel and the Middle East in the Obama administration, said while presidential visits generate high expectations and interests, concrete results can often be fleeting.