The administration of US President Donald Trump has signaled that the Western Wall, a site of worship in Jerusalem al-Quds’ Old City, has to be a part of Israel.
The declaration by two US senior officials on Friday came amid mounting tension over Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, ruled out any scenario that did not retain Israeli control over the site.
“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement,” the Associated Press quoted one of the officials as saying.
Another official later added by email, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”
This also came ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to the region on Wednesday, a visit Trump officials said is aimed at reinforcing the president’s announcement on Jerusalem al-Quds.
Trump made the controversial announcement in a speech at the White House on December 6, saying his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s recognition as “historic” and a “courageous and just decision.”
Washington’s policy move triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
The entire Jerusalem al-Quds is currently under Israel’s control, while the regime also claims the city’s eastern part, which hosts the third holiest Muslim site.
The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since the 1967 Arab War, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.