Trump may let Netanyahu visit Western Wall with him

The absence of Netanyahu at the Western Wall visit has been one of a number of controversies marking preparations for Trump’s visit.

PM Netanyahu and President Trump (photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
PM Netanyahu and President Trump
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
US President Donald Trump said he may reconsider whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could join him when he visits the Western Wall on Monday.
Trump told the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom that Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz would be with him during the visit, saying this was “more traditional, but that could change.”
Rabinovitch’s office said the two men will recite psalms together.
The absence of Netanyahu at the Western Wall visit has been one of a number of controversies marking preparations for Trump’s visit.
No other US president has come to Israel within months of taking office, and Trump also will be the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, even though his administration has balked at stating that the holy Jewish site where the Temple once stood is part of the State of Israel.
The White House on Friday published a map of Israel at the pre-1967 lines. The 54-second video called “Photos Abroad” promotes Trump’s five-stop trip in eight days.
A red line set to upbeat music shows how Trump will travel from Washington to Saudi Arabia and on to Israel.
But the white map, set against a blue background, excludes east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which are part of sovereign Israel.
Netanyahu hails "new day" in Israel-US relations after meeting with Trump (credit: REUTERS)
It also does not include the West Bank, including Area C, where all the Israeli settlements are. On the flip side, the map does not offer an illustration solely for the Palestinian territories, nor does it refer to Palestine as a state.
Trump’s visit to the Palestinian territories is listed under Israel, where the video explained Trump will be meeting with the “president of the Palestinian Authority.”
In spite of the omission of Judea and Samaria from the map, a number of settler leaders will be among the dignitaries at the red carpet ceremony to be held at Ben-Gurion Airport when Trump disembarks.
In light of reports that Trump may continue to request that Netanyahu constrain settlement activity so he can move forward on a peace deal, they want to tell the US president that they are the reason the peace process has been stuck for three years.
“I will say that Ma’aleh Adumim is not a stumbling block to peace. It is part of Israel and we have to continue to build there,” said the city’s mayor Benny Kashriel.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who was the only settler leader to publicly endorse Trump during the elections, said he remains firm in his conviction that this US president is more supportive of Israel than any of his predecessors.
There is a “historic opportunity” here for Netanyahu to help improve American policy toward Israel, including with respect to Judea and Samaria, he said.
“It’s clear that Trump is an American patriot and not an Israeli patriot,” and as a result his interests are different from that of the Israeli government, said Dagan, who added, however, that there is no doubt he favors Israel.
Dagan and Kashriel also were in Washington for Trump’s inauguration in January.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman and Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, will also be present at the welcoming ceremony.
This is not the first time settler leaders have greeted a visiting US president.
Four such leaders were part of the welcoming celebration for former president Barack Obama when he landed at Ben-Gurion in 2013.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.