On Jerusalem, as on Much Else, It's Trump vs. 'Deep State'

The Israeli prime minister released an excerpt of minutes from a February meeting at the White House with Mr Trump that his office said proved he called for the embassy to be moved.

A surprise controversy erupted Tuesday over USA policy towards Israel days ahead of a visit by President Donald Trump, with the potential move of the American embassy to Jerusalem again making waves.

However, the worldwide community does not recognize Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek as the capital of a future independent state.

Israel captured the Old City, along with the rest of east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israeli daily Haaretz described the conflicting comments as "the first public disagreement" between Netanyahu's government and the Trump administration.

A sign hangs on a building under construction in Jerusalem congratulating U.S. President Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017.

"From the meeting in the Oval Office: 'The embassy - the PM supports moving it'".

Tillerson's remarks were the first time that a senior figure in the President Trump administration has publicly raised the possibility that moving the embassy to Jerusalem could harm the new administration's aspirations to renew the peace process and reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

At least 10,000 Israeli police will be deployed to protect Donald Trump during his visit to the Jewish state on 22-23 May.

United Nations ambassadors, world leaders, diplomats and even US presidents have all touted a two-state solution as the way to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, and many repeat the familiar narrative that Israel is the main obstacle to that two-state, peaceful solution.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced a political backlash from his right-wing base over the issue, particularly after a report that he advised Trump against moving the embassy to the disputed city for now.

The White House distanced itself from the alleged comments, saying in statements to United States media that they did not reflect the views of the adminstration.

Tillerson also appeared to suggest Israel might view the embassy move as "perhaps a distraction".

"We are convinced that this statement is contrary to the policy of President Trump".

He will try to relaunch the peace process although the prospects for progress are unclear as both sides are entrenched in long-held positions. "I prayed for the president, I wished him success especially on his upcoming trip".

According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu's office was "shocked" by the comments and has asked the Trump administration about the incident.

The following day, Trump will speak at Masada, the Roman-era fortress in the Negev Desert, and meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

  • Jon Douglas