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.
Spokespeople for the US consulate in Jerusalem and the US embassy in Tel Aviv could not immediately be reached for comment.
The US Consulate General in Jerusalem represents the United States in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as an independent mission.
After publication of the remarks on Monday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office expressed shock, sought clarifications from the White House, and said it did not believe the comments reflected Trump’s views.
Shortly afterwards, the White House told The Times of Israel, “The comments about the Western Wall were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the president.” Read Times of Israel article
Now, for a representative of the U.S. to tell Israel that the Western Wall was not theirs should be grounds for firing. The White House told the Times of Israel that this did not represent the views of the president.
The controversy stemmed from preparations for the president’s visit next week when he plans to visit the Western Wall. According to the Times article, this is something no serving U.S. president has ever done. The consulate officials got heated when asked could Prime Minister Netanyahu join the president at the wall. This could now prove to be a real test of what the president’s true position is on Jerusalem. President Trump has already made a campaign promise recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there, but according to recent CNN article, he is being strongly advised from some without and even some from within not to make such a move.