The American official who sniped at his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jews to pray, is not part of Israel and not Israel’s responsibility was named Tuesday in a TV report as David Berns, the political counselor at the US Consulate in Jerusalem. A second US official, the consulate’s economic counselor Jonathan Shrier, was also involved in the bitter diplomatic incident, which deteriorated into an angry shouting match, Channel 2 said.
The TV report predicted that Berns’ job might now be under threat, since the incident embarrassed the Trump administration ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel next week.
According to the report, the angry exchanges began when the Israeli team working with their American counterparts on preparations for Trump’s visit asked whether Netanyahu could accompany the president when he goes to the Western Wall, a key expected stop on his May 22-23 visit to Israel and the West Bank. No serving US president has ever visited the Western Wall, because US policy has been that the final status of Jerusalem has yet to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The US officials reportedly rejected the request for Netanyahu to join the visit to the Wall, saying it would be “a private visit” by the president and that he would go on his own. The Israelis then asked whether a TV crew providing live coverage of the Trump visit could at least continue to film here there.
At this point, the TV report said, a senior American official rudely responded: “What are you talking about? It’s none of your business. It’s not even part of your responsibility. It’s not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.” Read more at Times of Israel.