Trump to Be First Sitting US President to Visit Western Wall | IFCJ
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Trump to Be First Sitting US President to Visit Western Wall

President Barack Obama visited the Western Wall as a presidential candidate, George H.W. Bush visited while Vice President, and Bill Clinton did both before and after his time in office. But, The Times of Israel's Raphael Ahren notes, Donald Trump will be the first sitting American President to visit the holiest site in Judaism:

“I don’t recall ever hearing of a sitting US president visiting the Western Wall,” said Shlomo Slonim, a professor emeritus of American history and the former chairman of Hebrew University’s Department of American Studies. Trump’s anticipated, but as of this writing unconfirmed, visit to the site would be “an innovation,” he added.

The White House has yet to publish the itinerary for Trump’s May 22-23 visit to Israel — the 11th presidential trip to the country since Richard Nixon came in 1974 — but according to sources involved in planning the trip, he is set to visit the Western Wall. If he indeed goes to the site, it would likely be interpreted by some as akin to an American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. (Despite some reports to the contrary, Trump has never visited Israel before.)

During the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured the eastern part of Jerusalem, which until then had been under Jordanian administration. In 1980, Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City with the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. So far, the entire international community has adamantly refused to recognize Israel’s claim to that part of the city, arguing that the final status of Jerusalem is subject to negotiations with the Palestinians.

It has been rumored in some quarters that Trump, on the occasion of his visit — which coincides with the week in which Israel celebrates the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification — will recognize a united Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. But, for now, that remains speculative...

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Landscape photo of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock in the foreground.

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