Smotrich to PM: Knesset Members Won’t Let President Trump Visit Kosel Alone

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich urged the prime minister not to “allow” U.S. President Donald Trump to visit the Kosel without an official Israeli delegation accompanying him. One way to obviate a solo Trump visit, he said, was to have Knesset members visit the site at the same time. As lawmakers, Knesset members are excluded from observing rules on closed security zones, so while ordinary Israelis may not be able to visit the Kosel when President Trump does, Knesset members should have no problem doing so.

“There is a limit to the erasure of our national honor that we can accept,” Smotrich wrote in his letter. “That Yerushalayim and the Kosel belong to us is part of our national consensus. The vast majority of Israelis feel this way, and they will definitely support you in this effort” to join President Trump at the Kosel. “It is unacceptable that this questioning of who the Kosel belongs to should be precipitated by our strongest ally.

“I call on MKs to use their immunity and show up at the Kosel along with the delegation accompanying President Trump in order to make it clear to the world that this holy place belongs to us, and to defend the honor of Yerushalayim and the state of Israel,” wrote Smotrich. He added that he had been in touch with the relevant legal authorities to make sure that police would respect MKs’ immunity in the event that they visited the Kosel at the same time as President Trump.

In an interview with Yisrael Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth, President Trump said that he had not ruled out visiting the Kosel with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “We have great respect for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said President Trump, and the decision to visit the Kosel without a political escort from Israeli officials is in order not to upset the “customs of the site.” That could change, however. “We haven’t made a final decision” on how the visit would be conducted.

Last week it was reported that President Trump would not be accompanied by any Israeli officials, in order not to give the impression that the U.S. recognizes the Kosel as a part of Israel. In a press conference Tuesday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said that the Kosel was “clearly in Jerusalem,” but would not say that it was in Israel.