Netanyahu's office denies rumors the prime minister opposes moving US Embassy

The controversy is over the Western Wall, or Kotel. Among the issues of importance to the casino mogul and owner of the pro-Netanyahu daily paper in Israel, Israel Hayom, are moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and a crackdown on online gambling.

The front of the United States embassy is seen in Tel Aviv, Israel January 20, 2017.

A diplomatic spat appeared to erupt between USA and Israeli officials over President Trump's visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City just days before he's due in the region.

There are ongoing rumors and undertones that it is the Israeli administration, and not the White House, which is delaying the move.

The White House told reporters last week that Trump had yet to decide what he would do on that front.

But Trump has since backed away from the embassy move, saying it was still being looked at, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced political backlash at home over the issue.

"The statement that the Western Wall is in an area in the West Bank was received with shock", said the official in Netanyahu's office. He said Trump's decision would be informed by feedback from all sides, including "whether Israel views it as helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction".

The site has been politically controversial, as it is located in Jerusalem's Old City, which was under Jordanian control from the founding of Israel in 1948 to 1967, when it came under Israeli control following the Six-Day War.


Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel considers the entire city to be its undivided capital. Palestinians and most of the global community regard all or part of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. "Now that the administration is expressing strong determination to reach a final status deal, naturally Israelis are concerned about what happens to Jerusalem", Gold said in an email.

The Prime Minister's Office categorically denied a claim by a Fox News correspondent that Netanyahu had asked Trump not to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem.

President Trump has placed a high priority on trying to broker a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians. They estimate that during his May 20 visit to the region, Trump will balance his pro-Israel attitude with a rapprochement to some of the Arab positions.

Tillerson said Trump has taken a "deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding, in the context of the peace initiative, what impact would such a move have".

The new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, departed from diplomatic protocol by visiting the Western Wall on Monday. In an apparent coincidence, Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, was visiting at the same time and briefly spoke to Friedman.

While the terms of the agreement are more generous to Israel that offers from previous US administrations, reluctance to move the embassy has made heavyweight Republican funder Sheldon Adelson "furious", according to Axios. "I prayed for the president, I wished him success especially on his upcoming trip". "Fox News correspondent Conor Powell also tweeted on Monday that "#Netanyahu told #Trump not to move embassy at this time". He has already met with both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and will meet with the two leaders again during his first foreign trip at the end of this week, when he will depart for Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a senior member of Netanyahu's coalition government, voiced concern Monday that "there has been a kind of change in the spirit" of Trump's statements since he was elected. He said that Trump also shared with his Palestinian guests that he will continue to resist settlement expansion.

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