White House questions authenticity of 'Western Wall' sovereignty comments

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May 15, 2017 23:35

"These comments, if true, were not authorized by the White House."

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A Palestinian flag is seen waving in front of the Kotel

A Palestinian flag is seen waving in front of the Kotel. (photo credit:REUTERS)

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is denying that one of its top officials characterized the Western Wall as West Bank territory outside of established Israeli jurisdiction, after local reports claimed a US official said as much to counterparts in the prime minister's office.

"These comments, if true, were not authorized by the White House," a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday afternoon. "They do not reflect the US position, and certainly not the president's position."

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Earlier on Monday, a report on Channel 2 indicated that a US official considered the Western Wall in Jerusalem — part of Judaism’s holiest site of the Temple Mount — outside of Israeli sovereignty. The wall and Temple Mount complex were taken over by Israel fifty years ago in the Six Day War, and their fate remains a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu had requested joining Trump on his visit to the site, Channel 2 reported, only to be denied on these grounds.

"The statement that the Western Wall is on territory in the West Bank was astonishing. Israel has turned to the US on this matter,” an official in Netanyahu’s office said in response.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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