Jerusalem, Mar 21 (AFP) US top diplomat Mike Pompeo became the first high-ranking American official to visit the Western Wall with an Israeli prime minister on Thursday, providing another boost to Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election campaign.
Two experienced former US diplomats could not recall such a senior US official visiting the site with an Israeli premier.
It could be taken as tacit approval of Israel's sovereignty over the site, one of the holiest in Judaism and located in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.
The visit comes less than three weeks before Israel's April 9 elections in which Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from a centrist alliance led by a former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu is also due to visit Washington and meet with his close ally US President Donald Trump twice next week.
On Thursday afternoon, Netanyahu and Pompeo, along with US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, approached the wall together, placing a hand on it before depositing prayers on slips of paper, as is tradition.
Before the visit, the US secretary of state told journalists "the trip to the wall is something that I've been talking with PM Netanyahu about doing ... It's our first chance to go there together."
"I think it's important. I think it's symbolic that a senior American official go there with a PM of Israel," he added, calling it "a place that's important to many faiths." - 'Indispensable man'
It was the Trump administration's latest move in favour of Israel and Netanyahu's right-wing government, and word came later that another is on the way.
Netanyahu has been pushing for the White House to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, and Trump tweeted Thursday that "it is time" to do so.
Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state now with the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, said the Western Wall visit was "determined to drive home a singular point." "That this administration is the most pro-Israeli administration in the history of the US-Israeli relationship, and it's occurring barely three weeks before an Israeli election," he told AFP. AFP NSA
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI