A dispute erupted on Tuesday between Israel and the US over comments by US officials describing the in east Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, as part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The row erupted a few days before the first official visit of US President Donald Trump to the region, Xinhua reported.
During a tour to prepare the visit, US diplomats reportedly told Israeli officials that Trump’s visit to the Western Wall would be private since Israel has no jurisdiction in the area, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 2 TV news.
The diplomats also told the Israelis that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not welcome to join Trump there, Channel 2 reported.
The site resides in annexed East Jerusalem, which Israel seized from Jordan in 1967.
On Tuesday, local media reported that Israel demanded the US to provide explanations for the remarks. “The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock,” an official told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.
Israeli officials appear to be increasingly concerned over Trump visit, during which he is expected to attempt to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The last round of talks reached an impasse in April 2014.
Trump voiced pro-Israeli positions during his presidential campaign. He expressed support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and seemed inclined to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. Shortly later, it annexed the territory claiming it as part of its “indivisible” capital. The move has never been internationally recognized.