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President Trump to make historic visit to Western Wall in Jerusalem
17 May 2017, 01:57 | Ignacio Smith
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A ceremony was held at the President's Residency in Jerusalem, a day after Friedman arrived in Israel and days before President Donald Trump's regional visit.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say whether the U.S. regards the Western Wall as part of Israel during a press conference at the White House Tuesday.
Trump's signal could be as symbolic as identifying the city as "Jerusalem, Israel", on official White House documents and photographs while he is there, according to sources familiar with planning for the trip.
Trump will be in Israel next week on the first foreign trip since his inauguration - and speculation has mounted he would make an announcement on the embassy's move during the visit.
Israel's Channel 2reported this exchange occurred after the Trump team rejected a request for Netanyahu to accompany Trump on his visit to the Western Wall, becoming the first sitting US president to do so. McMaster did however confirm that no Israeli leaders would accompany Trump on his visit to the site.
Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem during his campaign, but has since backed away, saying the move was still being looked at.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital, a claim that is not recognized internationally.
"They do not reflect the U.S. position, and certainly not the president's position", the spokesperson said.
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Nevertheless, it is clear there is some jockeying going on behind the scenes with changes still being made to the president's itinerary in Israel as his aides struggle to portray him as neutral in this hottest of all hotbeds, the heartbeat of the Middle East.
Also on Tuesday, Trump's controversial choice for ambassador David Friedman presented his credentials in a ceremony at President Reuven Rivlin's residence in Jerusalem.
In Saudi Arabia, Trump will address a gathering of representatives of 50 Muslim nations in what McMaster said would be an "inspiring yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president's hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam".
Since taking office, Trump has called for restraint in settlement construction and signalled he is no hurry to move the embassy.
"I prayed for the president and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip", Friedman said in a video posted on the USA embassy's Twitter feed. Despite the Kotel's significance in Judaism and Israel's control over a united Jerusalem, the global community-including the USA -does not officially recognize the Western Wall as part of Israel.
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Israeli officials have sought to draw distinctions between the Old City, where the Western Wall is, East Jerusalem, which includes areas surrounding the city, and the West Bank in general, though they were all captured at the same time in the same war. Trump, however, has vowed to break with that policy by moving the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The Western Wall, in east Jerusalem's Old City, is the remnant of the ancient temple, destroyed more than 2,000 years ago.
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