In a visit fraught with symbolism, President Trump on Monday became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The president and first lady Melania Trump visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection, and the Western Wall, part of the Jewish temple complex destroyed by Rome in 70 C.E.
The walled Old City lies in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel from Jordan in the Six-Day War 50 years ago. Israel’s subsequent annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized internationally.
The White House said the visit was unofficial and private. The U.S. considers the status of Jerusalem unresolved and subject to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not accompany the president to the Old City.
Nonetheless, Trump’s visit — and particularly his brief stop at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most revered religious site — carried profound significance.
Trump said in joint remarks with Netanyahu later Monday that he was “deeply moved” by the experience. “It will leave an impression on me forever.” Netanyahu said the Israeli people “applaud” the U.S. president for making the trip.
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