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Trump becomes first sitting US president to visit Western Wall

Netanyahu (left) and Trump

Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP |  Donald Trump on Monday became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in the disputed city of Jerusalem, placing his hand on one of the most sacred sites in Judaism.

The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray. Trump, wearing a black skullcap, paused in front of it, then placed what appeared to be a written prayer or note between its stones, as is custom.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders. Security was tight, with the usually bustling Old City, where the Western Wall is located, essentially on lockdown and the plaza leading to the site cleared.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism and is married to one of the president’s top aides, Jared Kushner, also visited the women’s side of the wall.

Under strict interpretation of Jewish law, men and women must pray separately there.

The Western Wall is the last remnant of the supporting wall of the second Jewish temple, built by King Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The visit there drew controversy before Trump even left Washington, when US officials declined to say whether it belonged to Israel.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most difficult issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, where the Western Wall is located, and the West Bank in 1967 in moves never recognised by the international community.

It later annexed east Jerusalem and claims the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The traditional US position has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.

Trump’s visit to the wall came as part of his first trip abroad as president. The trip includes stops at important sites for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The first leg of his trip was in Saudi Arabia, while later stops will include the Vatican.

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Trump’s Saudi summit was ‘show with no value’: Iran’s Rouhani
Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani on Monday dismissed his US counterpart Donald Trump’s summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia this weekend as “just a show”.

“The gathering in Saudi Arabia was just a show with no practical or political value of any kind,” Rouhani said at a press conference.

In a jibe at the billion-dollar deals signed between Trump and the Saudi government, Rouhani said: “You can’t solve terrorism just by giving your people’s money to a superpower.”

He said Friday’s election in Iran that saw Rouhani convincingly defeat hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi had been a message to the world that Tehran was ready for engagement.

“We wanted to tell the world that on the basis of mutual respect and shared interests, we are to ready to have interaction,” he said.

 

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