New US ambassador to Israel presents credentials

This new development happened days ahead of a visit by President Donald Trump on an ultra-sensitive status of Jerusalem.

But the appointment has been overshadowed by controversy over comments by another diplomat preparing the United States president's visit to Jerusalem next week, who described Judaism's Holy Western Wall in its Old City as part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Citing current and former officials, The New York Times reported Tuesday that Israeli officials declined to comment on whether they were the source of the information.

A final meeting is expected to be held on Tuesday with the White House advance team, in which the timetable for the visit will be finalised.

"I don't know what the policy of the administration is but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we've always seen it and that's how we should pursue it...we've always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel".

Further, the President has reportedly chose to delay moving the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until 2020, breaking a major campaign promise.

Friedman is an orthodox Jew and a strong supporter of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.

All three events fall on Jerusalem Day, the day Israel celebrates the reunification of its eternal capital, Jerusalem.

The White House said the comment did not represent the president's position.

According to Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper, Friedman has been president of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group aiming to raise funds for the Beit El settlement's seminary along with other settlement activities.

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The issues arose as Trump's controversial new ambassador to Israel David Friedman presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

Friedman's first stop was the Western Wall, where he said he "prayed for the president".

He continued, "Serving the U.S. as its Ambassador to the State of Israel, is the greatest honor of my life, and I pledge to you to do all that I can to strengthen and enhance the relations between our two great nations - that you accurately described as unbreakable and, I would add, without limits".

Israel captured the Old City and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it to the rest of the city - a move the worldwide community does not recognize.

So I told you this weekend about Secretary of State Tillerson making the comment that moving the USA embassy to Jerusalem would depend on a peace deal between Palestine and Israel - something we know isn't just going to happen.

The Israeli government asked for clarification following Berns' reported remarks.

Trump is reportedly planning to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

"Betrayal: Trump admin snubs Israel with Western Wall word games", is the headline on a commentary in Conservative Review. "Those are unworkable suggestions that are never going to be agreed upon by the State of Israel". He said Trump's decision would be informed by feedback from all sides, including "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction".

He has also advocated moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

  • Darren Santiago