Trump Inauguration Rabbi Slams Administration’s Jerusalem Confusion, But Confident President Will Recognize City as Israel’s Capital During Visit
A prominent American rabbi who took part in President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January expressed sharp disappointment on Tuesday with the White House’s ongoing reluctance to clarify its position on Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem — but also stated he was confident the president himself would rectify the matter once he arrives in the Jewish state next Monday.
Rabbi Marvin Hier — the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) in Los Angeles — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday he believed that Trump, during his upcoming trip, would end the speculation over American policy regarding Jerusalem.
“Trump is not going to let it stand that the Kotel (Western Wall) is going to be under the sovereignty of another nation, or that it’ll be ‘internationalized,’ as the Vatican would like,” Hier said. “Those are unworkable suggestions that are never going to be agreed upon by the State of Israel. Trump has made it clear on so many occasions that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, so it would be quite a reversal for him to state differently on this occasion.”
Hier was speaking following a press briefing earlier on Tuesday by Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, in which he refused on two separate occasions to answer reporters’ questions on whether the US regards the Western Wall as part of Israel. McMaster merely stated that this was a “policy decision.”
Concern in Israel about the administration’s stance on Jerusalem has been intensifying over the past day, after reports emerged of a stand-up row between American and Israeli officials planning Trump’s visit, during which David Berns, the political counselor at the US Consulate in Jerusalem, is alleged to have shouted at his Israeli counterpart that the Western Wall was “part of the West Bank.” The White House clarified on Monday night that the comment did not reflect “the position of the administration.”
However, on Tuesday, McMaster also confirmed that “no Israeli leaders” would be joining the president on his much-heralded visit to the Western Wall — thereby reviving speculation that the White House does not want to give the impression that it recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the eastern parts of Jerusalem (including the Old City) that Israel took control of from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and which the Palestinians view as the capital of a future state.
“The notion that there is a question as to whom the Kotel belongs to is just preposterous,” Hier said. “This is an unnecessary blunder on the part of, firstly, low-level officials, and then McMaster. To leave open the suggestion that the sovereignty of the Kotel is attached to the West Bank is just mind-boggling to me.”
Hier restated his conviction that the policy confusion on Jerusalem would end soon after Trump lands in Israel. “When President Trump arrives in Israel, I don’t think there will be any doubt over who has title over the Kotel,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 2 reported a senior unnamed US official saying that despite ongoing reports that Trump no longer plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the move will eventually happen. “We’ll move the embassy, just give us time,” the official was quoted as saying.