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Pompeo visits Western Wall with Netanyahu in break with diplomatic practice

AFP  |  Jerusalem 

US top became the first high-ranking American to visit the with an Israeli on Thursday, providing another boost to Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election campaign.

Two experienced former US diplomats could not recall such a senior US visiting the site with an Israeli

It could be taken as tacit approval of Israel's sovereignty over the site, one of the holiest in Judaism and located in mainly Palestinian east

The visit comes less than three weeks before Israel's April 9 elections in which Netanyahu is facing a tough challenge from a centrist alliance led by a former military chief of staff,

Netanyahu is also due to visit and meet with his close twice next week.

On Thursday afternoon, Netanyahu and Pompeo, along with US ambassador to David Friedman, approached the wall together, placing a hand on it before depositing prayers on slips of paper, as is tradition.

Before the visit, the US told journalists "the trip to the wall is something that I've been talking with PM Netanyahu about doing ... It's our first chance to go there together."

"I think it's important. I think it's symbolic that a senior American go there with a PM of Israel," he added, calling it "a place that's important to many faiths." - 'Indispensable man'

It was the Trump administration's latest move in favour of and Netanyahu's right-wing government, and word came later that another is on the way.

Netanyahu has been pushing for the to recognise Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, seized from in the 1967 Six-Day War, and Trump tweeted Thursday that "it is time" to do so.

Aaron David Miller, a former to both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state now with the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, said the visit was "determined to drive home a singular point." "That this administration is the most pro-in the history of the US-Israeli relationship, and it's occurring barely three weeks before an Israeli election," he told AFP.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 22 2019. 01:00 IST