'We can’t envision a scenario under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel,' senior Trump official says.
The U.S. expects the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City will be part of Israel, a senior Trump administration official said Friday as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to visit the region.
"I think we can’t envision a scenario under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement."
The Western Wall is in East Jerusalem that was seized by Israel in 1967. Palestinians are seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the U.S. has never recognized Israel's sovereignty over lands it captured in the Arab-Israeli War.
Tensions have reached a fever pitch following President Donald Trump's decision earlier this month to recognize the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite widespread opposition from the international community.
Capital recognition has consistently been seen as a final status issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and Trump's declaration appeared to many, including the Palestinians, to undercut that long-established understanding.
The shift sparked ongoing angry demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"We think it's appropriate for the Palestinians to digest what has happened," the U.S, official said. "Once they review the president's remarks clearly, they will realize that nothing has changed in terms of being able to reach an historic peace agreement. So, we think that the Egyptians and others, of course, can encourage them, but this visit may not be the right time to stress any kind of pressure from either side."
Pence is expected to visit the Western Wall next week.
He will leave Tuesday for the region after a highly-anticipated vote on tax reform by the U.S. Congress. He will arrive in Egypt where he will meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on Wednesday before traveling to Israel.
Pence will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and address Israel's parliament, the Knesset.
A previously planned meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been canceled following Trump's declaration.