McMaster's Western Wall Disaster Taints Trump's Israel Trip

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Obama's people were always good at manufacturing spats between Israel and the United States. And the swamp is still seething.

This mess began when some of the planning for President Trump's trip in Jerusalem was left in the hands of personnel from the US consulate in Jerusalem. The consulate is notorious for having about the same view of Israel as Hamas. It does its best not to recognize the existence of Israel. And, it's alleged, when Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to join Trump in the visit to the Western Wall, David Berns, the consulate's political counselor, barked that the Western Wall doesn't belong to Israel.

This mess should have been easy enough to shut down. Except McMaster made it worse by refusing to answer that the Western Wall is in Israel. Instead McMaster called it a policy decision.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the other hand was quite clear. 

Q    Wait, can I just get one more?  Something that General McMaster declined to answer on two occasions from behind that podium that's causing some unhappiness on the Hill, the refusal to say whether the Western Wall is in Israel or not.  Can you explain why you guys can't answer that question?

MR. SPICER:  The Western Wall is obviously one of the holiest sites in Jewish faith.  It’s clearly in Jerusalem.  But there’s been -- it’s an issues that's had serious consideration. It will be a topic that's going to be discussed during the President’s trip between the parties that he meets with.

But obviously I think this stems from a comment that was made yesterday and which was not the policy of the United States. And so I think just because -- so just to be clear about what was said yesterday.

Spicer had a great answer. But there's an obvious gap here. It's not the first time that there has been a policy clash between McMaster and other administration members.

President Trump will be the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. And that's an important moment. But that moment was undermined by Jerusalem consulate personnel, a swamp that badly needs draining, and then by McMaster.