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Published: Wed, May 17, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

New US Ambassador David Friedman Presents Credentials to President, Meets PM

New US Ambassador David Friedman Presents Credentials to President, Meets PM

Hot on the heels of allegations that US President Trump leaked classified information to Russian officials during a visit to the White House last week, the Trump administration has stirred up yet another controversy, this time with Israel.

Both White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster refused to clearly answer questions on Tuesday about whether they thought the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, is in Israel.

Trump is expected to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on May 22 and 23.

#1 - Reporter: Can you tell us if Prime Minister Netanyahu would join President Trump at the Western Wall?

Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish men participate in the Cohanim Priestly caste blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in front of the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Monday, April 25, 2016.

Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel considers the entire city to be its undivided capital.

The White House on Monday told The Time of Israel the comments by the official were "unauthorised" and did not represent Trump's policy.

According to the statement, the two leaders stressed the importance of cooperation between their countries, discussed efforts to bring Syria's civil war to a conclusion and said that there is an immediate need to put an end to the violence and solve the crisis in the country.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have been major financial backers of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, since its inception in the 1990s.

Since taking office, Trump has called for restraint in settlement construction and signalled he is no hurry to move the embassy.

The US Congress has mandated such a relocation too, and has since 1995, though the Jerusalem Embassy Act has allowed presidents to pass waivers to delay the move, waivers which have been in effect ever since, citing national security interests.

The Israeli ambassador to the US wouldn't tell the Times whether Israel was the source.

"These comments were not authorized by the White House".

The Western Wall, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, is in "disputed territory", Berns reportedly said.

The US has not recognized Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem in 1967.

Beit El is also known for the yeshiva's hard-line rabbi, Zalman Melamed, who has supported soldiers refusing an order to evacuate settlements, and was a staunch critic of the left-wing governments that concluded peace accords with the Palestinians in the 1990s.

The new United States ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stepped out of the diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday. If the United States wants to further peace in the Middle East, and elsewhere, the best start is to demonstrate clear, principled leadership, defined by our free principles and not by intimidation.

In December 2016, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution which called Israel's founding of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 - including East Jerusalem - a "flagrant violation under worldwide law".

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