President Donald Trump placed a note in the Western Wall on Monday, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
The historic visit is part of Trump’s efforts to highlight “the need for unity among three of the world’s great religions” on his first foreign trip, senior administration officials said. Trump’s stop at the Western Wall came between Sunday’s visit to Saudi Arabia where he called on Muslim leaders to “drive out the terrorists and extremists,” and his forthcoming visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Trump stood alone with his hand on the wall for several moments before tucking his note between the cracks. First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner joined Trump for the visit to both the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. Melania Trump also tucked a note into the wall.
The Western Wall is not officially recognized as Israeli territory, and the Trump administration has not been clear about whether they believe the holy site is part of Israel.
George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each visited the Western Wall as private citizens or candidates. None of them was accompanied by an Israeli prime minister, and current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu did not join Trump for his visit. The two leaders and their wives will have dinner at Netanyahu’s residence Monday evening.