White House officials who spoke to the AP on the eve of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel and the Middle East, said, “We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement,” and, by email, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”
Israel’s Kann News reports that senior White House officials say that Pence will visit the Western Wall on Wednesday as an official visit by the Vice-President, and not as a personal visit, as was done by President Trump.
Pence plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday, as soon as the Republicans in the Senate succeed or fail to pass the president’s tax overhaul. Pence will meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Wednesday, then continue to Israel, where he is scheduled to address the Knesset.
President Trump, who on December 6 recognized the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, did not speak at the Knesset for fear of being interrupted rudely by Arab MKs.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on Saturday reacted to the White House officials’ statements that the US considers “what Muslim refer to as Al-Buraq Wall, while Jews call the Wailing or Western Wall, as part of Israel,” saying, “This American position proves once again that the current US administration is completely out of the peace process.”
Pence will not be meeting with any senior Palestinian Authority officials.
Abu Rudeineh added, “Continuing with this American policy, whether it has to do with recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy to the city, or taking a unilateral decision on final status issues, are in violation of international law and consolidate the occupation. This is not acceptable to us and we denounce it.”
AP quoted a third senior administration official who said that Pence’s trip should be viewed as part of “the ending of that chapter and the beginning of what I would say [is] the next chapter.”