Israel Prime Minister Responds to Secretary Tillerson on US Embassy Move

Jim Comey's Strange Path To Jerusalem

Trump's first overseas trip as president will also include visits to Saudi Arabia and the Vatican.

It was the latest sign of the Israeli right's growing disenchantment with Trump after having rejoiced in his election.

Trump promised to relocate the USA embassy as one of his campaign pledges. The PLO's chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in January that the PLO would revoke its recognition of Israel if Trump moved the embassy.

"Relocating the American embassy would not harm the peace process, on the contrary", a statement by the Prime Minister's Bureau said. "Moving the embassy would force the other side to contend with the lie they've constructed - that Israel has no connection to Jerusalem - and will cause them to understand that Israel will be here forever with Jerusalem as its capital'".

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. In 1980, Israel declared "reunited" Jerusalem its capital in a move unrecognized by major states.

Despite the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by the U.S. Congress, which required the relocation of U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation on national security interests.

Separately, Israeli officials have reacted angrily to reports in local media that representatives of the American consulate had suggested the Western Wall did not belong to Israel.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office said it was shocked by the comments and said it had asked the United States to explain what was meant by them.

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The reaction to Trump's reported visit to the site shows why sitting USA presidents have stayed away from the Western Wall.

Israel's Channel Two reported that Israeli officials offering to help plan the event were told by American counterparts it was not their remit.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

The global community regards all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace.

The spat came on the day the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman - an orthodox Jew - arrived in the country to take up his position.

Abbas said "it's about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and our land" - a reference to Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. But Tillerson linked Trump's deliberations directly to his aspirations for brokering Mideast peace.

David Friedman, the newly minted U.S. ambassador to Israel who has long argued for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and was slated to begin living and working in Jerusalem from the start of his tenure, is expected to begin his post this week working out of the USA embassy in Tel Aviv, according to sources familiar with his plans.

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