Photo Credit: TPS
U.S. Ambassador David Melech Friedman prays from a Hebrew prayer book at the Western Wall before starting his term in Israel under the Trump administration.

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has welcomed a clarification from President Donald Trump’s administration that it does not regard the Western Wall in Jerusalem as a “part of the West Bank,” contrary to earlier media reports.


“We were dismayed by press accounts earlier today reporting that, in response to a request that Prime Minister Netanyahu accompany President Trump when he visits the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, unidentified US officials said the Kotel was not in Israel and is ‘part of the West Bank,’” said  Stephen Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, of the Conference of Presidents, in a statement.

The statement from Greenberg and Hoenlein included a separate clarification from the Trump Administration. “The comments about the Western Wall were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president,” the White House was reported as saying.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli media outlets reported that an unidentified senior member of the president’s advance team had snapped at an Israeli official that the Western Wall, or Kotel, is “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.” The exchange allegedly took place as the US official rejected a request that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany Trump when he visits the Western Wall during his visit to Israel next week.

Israeli officials were reported to be “shocked” by the comment, which came as David Friedman, the new US Ambassador to Israel, visited the Western Wall on Monday – his “first stop,” as a tweet from the US Embassy pointed out.

Greenberg and Hoenlein concluded: “This incident underscores the terrible damage caused by serial UN resolutions, including UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (of December 2016), denying the more than three thousand years of the Jewish connection to Israel and the holiest sites in the Jewish religion, which the Trump Administration has said it will work to reverse.”


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Ben Cohen writes a weekly column for on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics. His writings have been published in Commentary, the New York Post, Haaretz, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications.