US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Wednesday, and was greeted by throngs who expressed their gratitude to her at the Jewish holy site.
Fifty years to the day after Israeli paratroopers took control of the Western Wall in 1967’s Six Day War, an emotional Haley stood in silence with her hands on the stones in the women’s section at the 2,000-year-old wall.
The trip to the Jerusalem holy site was billed as a private visit, much like that of US President Donald Trump last month, in order not to be seen as the US tacitly acknowledging Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City.
After the war Israel annexed the eastern side of the city in a move not recognized by most of the international community, which holds that Jerusalem’s final status needs to be resolved in talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and Western Wall Heritage Foundation director Mordechai Eliav met Haley and explained the history and meaning of the site. Although a special section had been cordoned off for the envoy to pray alone, she went to stand with the other people in the crowded women’s section and spent a few minutes touching the wall. As she left she was surrounded by a large group of people who called out thanks to her for standing up for Israel.
Haley told those around her how moved she was by the reception she received in Israel, but said she was simply telling the truth in defending Israel at the UN.
The Western Wall, part of the retaining walls of the Second Temple compound, is the closest point of prayer for Jews to the site of the Temple itself and thus the Jewish people’s holiest place of prayer.
Afterwards she was taken to the Western Wall tunnels where she signed the visitors’ book.
“My heart is full, and my life will change after the visit,” she wrote. “It was a blessing to experience a holy place with spiritual people full of love. May God bless whoever comes to the Western Wall.”
Haley said that her first visit to Israel showed her a reality that she had not expected, Channel 2 news reported. She was surprised by how short the distance was from Tulkarem, a town in the Palestinian Authority, to Netanya, an Israeli coastal city — only some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) away as the crow flies.
She plans to visit an UNRWA school on Thursday and may visit a West Bank settlement, though that had not yet been confirmed. She is also scheduled to tour Israel’s borders with Gaza and Syria and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.
Amb. Nikki Haley at the Kotel – I thanked her for righting all the wrongs over the years!
Posted by Joshua Wander on Wednesday, 7 June 2017
Earlier Wednesday Haley met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the two committed to building a long-term plan to undo an anti-settlements United Nations Security Council resolution passed in the last few days of Barack Obama’s presidency, Channel 2 reported.
UN Resolution 2334, which passed in December 2016 with 14 yes votes and an American abstention, said Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and represent “a flagrant violation under international law.” Israel reacted furiously to the resolution, denouncing it as “shameful.”