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US 'envisions' Western Wall to be part of Israel

In May Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 December, 2017

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White House officials have said they "envision" Israel would not sign a peace agreement with Palestinians which did not assign the Western Wall as Israeli territory.
Senior White House official have indicated the Western Wall in Jerusalem will ultimately be declared a part of Israel, in another hard line in defining Israeli sovereignty in the disputed holy city.

Trump administration officials said specific boundaries of Jerusalem are subject to final status Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but also added, "We cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn't include the Western Wall." 

The issue is sensitive because the wall is beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders and abuts some of the Islamic world's most revered sites.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in a briefing ahead of Vice President Mike Pence's trip to Israel and Egypt next week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' aides said earlier this week that he would not meet with Pence following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump's December 6 announcement came at a time of mounting speculation about the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian deal the US might propose.

Wednesday's extraordinary summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ended with a call on Trump to rescind an "unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region" and on the world to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

In May, Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray and located in east Jerusalem.

The Western Wall visit drew controversy before Trump even left Washington, when US officials declined to say whether it belonged to Israel.

The Western Wall - also known as the Wailing Wall - was occupied along with rest of east Jerusalem in the 1967 war in a move not recognised by the international community.

Israel later annexed east Jerusalem and claims the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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