Trump's national security chief twice refuses to say Kotel is part of Israel

McMaster's comment comes following denial of Israeli sovereignty over Western Wall by diplomat at the US consulate in Jerusalem


HR McMaster, the national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, has twice refused to say whether the Western Wall, which the president will visit next week, is part of Israel.

Mr McMaster’s refusal to affirm Israeli sovereignty over the Kotel came during a press briefing on Mr Trump's upcoming trip to Israel.

Meanwhile, on Monday a diplomat at the US Jerusalem consulate allegedly denied Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, part of the holiest site in Judaism.

During discussions between US and Israeli representatives regarding Mr Trump’s trip to Israel later this month, the diplomat angrily rejected the idea of Mr Netanyahu joining Mr Trump at a visit to the Western Wall, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

The diplomat reportedly then told the Israelis that “The Western Wall is not in your territory, it’s part of the West Bank.” Reports indicate that the comments led to a shouting match between Israeli and American representatives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed that the incident had taken place, with a source telling Reuters that: "The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock.

"We are convinced that this statement is contrary to the policy of President Trump ... Israel has made contact with the U.S. on this matter," the source said.

The White House subsequently confirmed that this was not the American government’s position, telling the Jewish Telegraph Agency that the comments made “were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president.”

However, the latest incident comes just days after the US administration confirmed that, contrary to promises he made during his election campaign, Mr Trump had no intention of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the near future.

Just a few hours after news of the incident broke, David Friedman, the new American Ambassador to Israel, arrived in the country and visited the Western Wall with his wife and daughter. In a video released by the US embassy, Mr Friedman said he had prayed for the good health of his family, as well as for Mr Trump.

“I prayed for the president, and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip”, he said.

“I hope we all wish him success. We hope it’s going to be an amazing trip.”

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