Foreign dignitaries must visit Western Wall, says Israel
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has changed the protocol for foreign dignitaries visiting Israel in line with her extremist positions in particular regarding occupied Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which includes the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock.
Yediot Ahronot reported on Tuesday that Hotovely has instructed the Ministry's ceremony and visitor department to present the Western Wall as part of the official tour international figures, including official guests, diplomats, and heads of state, are given when they come to Israel.
Currently, visitors are taken to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Knesset, and Herzl's Tomb on Mount Herzl as part of their tours.
This will enhance the dialogue about Jerusalem
- Tzipi Hotovely
The changes have passed even though the international community does not acknowledge the annexation of Jerusalem to Israel. Western countries, including the US, refuse to move their embassies to Jerusalem as well as West Jerusalem, which was occupied in 1948.
Yediot Ahronot said the Foreign Ministry has until now refrained from requiring dignitaries from the visiting the wall.
Hotovely claimed including the Western Wall in the tour would strengthen Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel.
Hotovely became well-known during the government’s last term for being one of the biggest supporters of Israeli sovereignty of the al-Aqsa Mosque, allowing Jews perform religious ceremonies in the mosque and supporting the activity of extremists on the Temple Mount such as Rabbi Yehuda Glick.
Yediot Ahronot said the visit to the Western Wall was welcomed by the ceremony and visitor department but only as a suggestion not as a required part of the itinerary and not necessarily with the escort of ministry officials.
Some foreign officials accept the request such as US President Barack Obama who visited the Western Wall when he was campaigning for president in 2008, while the majority refuse citing their reasons as the political difficulty of visiting a “disputed” site.
Yediot Ahronot quoted the Deputy Foreign Minister as saying the first important official visiting Israel that will be asked to visit the Western Wall will be Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who arrives in Israel next week for an official visit. Hotovely will personally will be at the airport to greet him and to accompany him on his official itinerary.