WASHINGTON (JTA) — Reported remarks by a Trump administration official rejecting Israel’s claim to the Western Wall were “unauthorized” and do not represent the position of President Donald Trump, the White House said.
“The comments about the Western Wall were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president,” a White House official told JTA.
The remark that the Western Wall “is not your territory, it’s part of the West Bank” reportedly arose during conversations between an advance team planning Trump’s visit to Israel next week and officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.
Netanyahu wanted to join Trump on his visit to the Wall, which is unprecedented for a sitting president.
According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2, the Israeli delegation was so angry by the remark that members started shouting.
An Israeli official told the station that the Jewish state was “convinced that this statement contradicts President Trump’s policy as expressed in his fierce opposition to the latest [United Nations] Security Council resolution” and that it had asked the United States for clarification on the comment.
In December, the U.N. Security Council passed an anti-settlement resolution with the U.S. abstaining. Trump slammed President Barack Obama for not vetoing the measure, calling it “extremely unfair.”
Trump had said during his campaign he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which would effectively recognize the city as Israel’s capital. He has since retreated from that pledge and is still contemplating the move.