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Trump's Visit To This Jewish Holy Site Wasn't Without Controversy

Trump's Visit To This Jewish Holy Site Wasn't Without Controversy

Tel Aviv: US President Donald Trump today said that there is a "rare opportunity" to bring peace to the Middle East as he denounced Iran for supporting "terrorists" and vowed never to allow Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Trump met with Reuven Rivlin, who holds the largely ceremonial position of president of Israel.

Israeli officials say they are largely in the dark about what ideas Trump might present for peace or what concessions he may demand.

Trump's visit to the wall comes after USA officials meeting with their Israeli counterparts to arrange Trump's visit sparked off a controversy by contending that the Western Wall was part of the West Bank - which is not U.S. policy.

He cast uncertainty over years of worldwide efforts to foster a two-state solution when he met Netanyahu at the White House in February.

It was never reported, however, that Trump told the Russians that Israel was the source of the information.

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Donning a yarmulke, Trump solemnly placed his hand on the Western Wall and, after taking a few moments, left a note behind.

He also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus Christ was crucified and later resurrected.

Trump's visit comes just before Israelis on Wednesday will mark the "unification" of Jerusalem 50 years ago, which is regarded by Palestinians and the global community as the "occupation" of East Jerusalem. But in preparations for the visit, a junior USA official commented to Israelis that the site is "not your territory".

White House aides have moved to downplay expectations of significant progress on the peace process during the two-day visit. Tillerson referred to the visit as "a moment in time" and suggested that the US would take a more active role in the future in brokering a deal if both sides make serious commitments. Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism to marry Kushner, an orthodox Jew. "We are all Melania", said another.

Allowing them to do so could have led to accusations that Washington was implicitly recognising Israel's unilateral claim of sovereignty over the site, which would break with years of U.S. and worldwide precedent.

America and Israel, along with allies in the region, need to begin "facing the threat from the Iranian regime, which is causing so much suffering in the region", the President said.

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And Trump made one symbolic gesture Monday in bridging the gap between Israel and the Arab world.

But he said Israel has not changed its own formulation for peace, one that Saudi Arabia and most other Arab states have rejected until now. "It's never been better", he said. As with numerous president's problems, it was self-inflicted. He has taken a tougher line on settlements than Israeli officials had expected, urging restraint though not calling for a full halt to construction.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett used the welcome ceremony to press Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A senior administration official told Reuters last week that Trump remained committed to his campaign pledge to ultimately relocate the embassy, but would not announce such a move during this trip.

The US does not officially recognize Old Jerusalem as part of Israel, as that portion of the city is located beyond the 1949 armistice line that effectively partitioned the old Palestine Mandate between Israel and territories annexed by Egypt and Jordan.

Before Trump's visit to the wall on May 22, US officials reportedly rejected an Israeli request to let Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany Trump to the site, describing it as a "private visit". Both sides consider Jerusalem its capital.

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