By Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel—
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit the Western Wall on Thursday afternoon together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be seen as a tacit recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish holy site.
The visit would mark the first time that Washington’s top diplomat visits Jerusalem’s contested Old City accompanied by a senior Israeli official.
At 4:00 p.m., Pompeo and Netanyahu will tour the wall and the adjacent tunnels, which are located underneath the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. At a visitors center, the two men are expected to view a virtual reality recreation of the Jewish temple that once stood on the Temple Mount.
“The tour of the Western Wall Tunnels allows visitors to reach the segments of the Wall hidden from view, and to touch the original and special stones that tell the story of the Jewish nation,” according to their website.
The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, and so visiting foreign dignitaries generally refrain from going there in the company of Israeli officials.
Those who do want to tour the holy site usually do so in a private capacity, though in recent months an increasing number of foreign leaders have defied standard protocol and allowed Israeli diplomats to join them at the wall. Continue Reading….