President Trump said he will reaffirm the U.S.’s “unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state” while in Israel. He is also planning to visit the Western Wall – but that’s not the headline.
Earlier this week, a senior U.S. official reportedly said the Western Wall is in the West Bank – not Israel – during a heated exchange with the Israeli delegation helping to plan the president’s visit.
Then, the president’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer wouldn’t say the Western Wall is in Israel during press briefings – adding fuel to the already fiery headlines and raising concerns about problems between the U.S. and Israel before President Trump even steps foot in Israel.
“The Western Wall is, obviously, one of the holiest sites in the Jewish faith. It’s clearly in Jerusalem…but there’s been – it’s an issue that’s had serious consideration. It’s a topic that’s going to be discussed during the president’s trip between the parties that he meets with,” Spicer said.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, the U.S.’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said she believes the Western Wall is in Israel and that the U.S. embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – another controversial story.
But one story continues to dominate the headlines, and Israel may now be playing a prominent role. Israel reportedly gave the intelligence information to the United States that President Trump shared with Russia officials at the White House last week. And ABC News reports that, according to several former and current U.S. officials, it may have endangered the life of an Israel spy inside ISIS.
But none of this appears to be straining the U.S.-Israel alliance. Israel’s defense minister tweeted about his country’s “deep, significant ties” with t he U.S.
Michael Oren -- Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S. -- said he wouldn’t talk about the latest intelligence issues, but agreed that both world powers remain closely aligned.
“Certainly in the Middle East, there is no closer intelligence relationship, and that relationship will continue to be close and grow stronger still in the future,” Oren said.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with President Trump on Wednesday – a conversation Fox News is told lasted about 20 minutes and focused solely on the president upcoming visit to Israel.
It will be a challenging visit, not only in light of the recent headlines, but also the efforts to resume peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.