Almost a half century after Israel captured the Western Wall, or Kotel, during the Six-Day War, the Trump administration can’t agree about its location. Is it in Israel? The West Bank?
Asked on Wednesday whether he was concerned over the mixed messages from administration officials, Orthodox Union executive director Nathan Diament said “yes.”
Diament, who was attending a lunch at the Capitol celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, told Washington Jewish Week that he is optimistic that President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel next week will put an end to the question.
Diament said the OU was disappointed when national security adviser H.R. McMaster declined to say whether the holy site was located in Israel. At a press briefing Tuesday, McMaster said that answering the question “sounds like a policy decision.”
“We were very troubled that when General McMaster was asked twice in the briefing yesterday this question, he ducked, especially because [the question] was entirely predictable,” Diament said.
The Kotel is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967 from Jordan. Israel annexed East Jerusalem and has declared the entire city its undivided capital, a status not recognized internationally.
The question of the administration’s policy over the Wall’s location came after a senior administration official was reported to have stated that it was in the West Bank, which Israel occupies but does not claim.
Diament said he was pleased to see a different response from United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley. She told the Christian Broadcasting Network that she “didn’t know what the policy of the administration is” but believes the Wall is located in Israel.
“What we’re hoping is that the president on his trip next week can resolve the mixed messages and deliver one clear message which we hope will be that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It should not be re-divided, and that obviously the Western Wall and the other holy sites are a part of Israel,” he said.