Tillerson: Trump weighs embassy move impact on Mideast peace

Pierre Vaugeois
Mai 19, 2017

Trump will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president later this week.

He has told Trump that Palestinians are intractable negotiating partners who make demands that Israel can not meet.

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who will be in Israel during Trump's visit, was reportedly "furious" about Tillerson's comments on the embassy.

"We seek peace and we hope that the peace process would have the chance it deserves", he said, noting that Israel's continuous building of settlements on Palestinian lands is an act that is prone to undermine the two-state solution. It's not even part of your responsibility.

Separately, Israelis were riled on Monday by a report on Channel 2 news that a member of the USA delegation making preparations for Mr Trump's visit rejected a request that Mr Netanyahu accompany Mr Trump when he visits the Western Wall, the Jewish religious site that lies in Jerusalem's Israeli-occupied eastern half.

The comment was in response to an Israeli request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to join President Trump when he visits the Western Wall.

The new USA ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, departed from diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the remarks were "not the position of this Administration", according to journalist Itay Hod.

The controversy is over the Western Wall, or Kotel.

Israel is, already, one of the few peaceful places in the Middle East. The administration has distanced itself from that assurance and instead has taken a wait-and-see approach as Trump attempts to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Trump says he wants to broker an Israeli-Palestinian deal.

The United States, like most of the worldwide community, has traditionally considered Jerusalem disputed ahead of final-status negotiations.

One of Trump's top advisers, Jason Greenblatt, held wide-ranging talks with both Israelis and Palestinians during a visit in March.

Friedman, who visited the Western Wall after his arrival on Monday, said Trump had given him "the unequivocal and unambiguous mandate to support the state of Israel in every way and in all ways".

The report led Netanyahu to issue an angry rebuttal. Trump also caused some controversy when it appeared that he would not visit Yad Vashem during his trip, although it is now being reported he will spend 15 minutes at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial.

Israel demanded an explanation from the White House Monday after a US official reportedly questioned the country's claim to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gave President Donald Trump's inauguration its single largest donation at $5 million, is furious about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made on Sunday regarding Trump's campaign promise to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Axios reported.

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