(JTA) – A senior member of the U.S. delegation for President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel next week reportedly angered Israeli officials when he said the Western Wall was “part of the West Bank.”
Israel’s Channel 2 reported Monday that the U.S. delegation rejected Israeli requests that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an Israeli TV crew accompany Trump on his visit to the Western Wall. The U.S. official then reportedly said, “It is not your territory, it’s part of the West Bank.”
According to the report, the Israeli delegation was so angry that members started shouting.
An Israeli official told Channel 2 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 UN Security Council passed an anti-settlement resolution with the U.S. abstaining. Trump slammed president Barack Obama for not vetoing the resolution, calling it “extremely unfair.”
Trump will arrive in Israel on May 22, when he will visit the Western Wall and meet with President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu. That day also includes a “possible visit” to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial.
The following day, Trump will speak at Masada, the Roman-era fortress in the Negev Desert, and meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Trump’s first overseas trip as president will also include visits to Saudi Arabia and the Vatican. The agenda was deliberately set “to bring about all the different countries, all the different religions, in the fight against terrorism,” an aide said earlier this month.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised eyebrows when he spoke of “a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine.” It was not the first time a member of the Trump administration referred to “Palestine,” which the U.S. does not recognize. Earlier this month, White House social media director Dan Scavino Jr. said on Facebook that the president would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in “Palestine.”
A senior administration official called Tillerson and Scavino’s references “unintentional and unfortunate,” The Jerusalem Post reported Monday.