May 16, 2017 02:57 PM by Jordan Schachtel
The Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel, a uniquely Israeli and Jewish holy site that is thousands of years old and is visited by thousands of Jews every day, is not part of Israel, but rather is part of a Jerusalem that is not connected to the Jewish state, the Trump administration has stated.
Conservative Review reached out to the State Department for the Trump administration’s official position on the issue, following reports and speculation that the White House is refusing to recognize the ancient Jewish holy site as part of Israel. In response to a question asking whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, the administration official commented:
“The Western Wall is in Jerusalem.” He added, “As you know, Jerusalem is a final status issue.”
The on-the-record refusal to include the Western Wall as part of Israel may come as a shock to foreign policy observers. During his campaign, President Trump promised to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital.
“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” Trump stated, forcefully, on multiple occasions.
Continuing the administration’s unkept promise on Israel, during his press conference today, national security adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say that the Western Wall is part of Israeli territory.
McMaster was asked twice by reporters whether the Western Wall is in Israel. Deflecting the question, he said: “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump to the Western Wall.”
“He’s going to the Western Wall mainly in connection with the theme to connect with three of the world’s great religions, and to advance — to pay homage at each of these religious sites that he’s visiting, but also to highlight the theme that we all have to be united against what are really the enemies of all civilized people, and that we have to be joined together with an agenda of tolerance and moderation,” McMaster added.
Following McMaster’s comments, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated the administration’s confusing position in a press conference. The Western Wall is “clearly in Jerusalem,” Spicer said, stating the obvious geographic location of the wall, but refusing to state in what country it resides.
By not recognizing the unique Jewish identity of the Western Wall and refusing to be seen with Israeli leaders there, the Trump administration is effectively signaling that it agrees with the Obama position that Jerusalem in its entirety is up for grabs in negotiations with the Palestinian entities.
The news comes following reports that a U.S. diplomat reportedly told Israeli officials that the Western Wall is “not your territory.” The White House later said that the comments do not “reflect the U.S. position” — though the White House did not clarify what the official position is.
Separately, the New York Times reported Tuesday that the president gave away secret Israeli intelligence to the Russian government, a move that is sure to further sour the alliance, following the Jerusalem debacle.
The Trump administration’s shift on Israel has concerned Congressional leaders.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows released a statement Tuesday calling for McMaster to retract his remarks on the Western Wall.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) May 16, 2017
Rep. Ron DeSantis added:
— Ron DeSantis (@RepDeSantis) May 16, 2017
Adding to the bipartisan consensus on Israel, even Democratic Senator Steny Hoyer, D-MD, called the administration’s refusal “shocking and offensive.”
— Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) May 16, 2017
The Trump administration has now reportedly reneged on the status of Israel’s capital and one of its most holy sites and may also have betrayed secret Israeli intelligence to our Russian adversaries. In less than four months, the Trump-Israel relationship has gone from extremely promising to a full-blown five-alarm fire.
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated his position on the Western Wall and Jerusalem Tuesday, telling Conservative Review that the former is part of Israel and the latter remains its “undivided” capital.
The Texas senator’s statement follows statements from three separate Trump administration officials refusing to say whether the Western Wall in (Israel’s capital city of) Jerusalem is part of Israel. The wall is one of the holiest sites in Judaism, and it’s visited by thousands of Jews from all over the world each day.
“The Western Wall is part of Israel,” Cruz tells Conservative Review, “and Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.”
On Tuesday, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer both declined to say that the Western Wall is in Israel. Separately, an administration official refused to do so in a statement to Conservative Review, declaring that Jerusalem was up for grabs as a “final status issue.”
Cruz has long pushed for the president and the past administration to make good on promises to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In January, he introduced (along with Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.) the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which called for the relocation of the embassy.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Sen. Cruz said in January. “It is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to move the “American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” His walkback on the alliance with Israel was questioned by leaders of both parties, who were disappointed that he appears to be breaking his promise to recognize Jerusalem (and the Western Wall) as part of Israel.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.