Trump Visits Israel: Donald Trump Becomes First Sitting President to Visit Jerusalem’s Old City

Other American presidents have visited the Old City of Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, but not while they were serving in this capacity

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania talk to members of the Christian clergy during their visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Breaking longstanding tradition, Donald Trump became the first sitting American president to ever visit the Old City of Jerusalem. Trump’s visit to the Holy Sepulchre preceded his visit the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

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Trump visited two major religious sites in the Old City on Monday afternoon, during the first few hours of his visit to Israel. His first stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Christianity’s holiest sites. The church, one of the most visited sites in in the country, is believed by Christians to be the place where Jesus was buried and then resurrected. In doing so, he became the first sitting president to visit a Christian holy site before a Jewish holy site while visiting Israel.

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Trump and his wife Melania spent about an hour at the Old City church before making their way to the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. The Western Wall is a remnant of the Second Jewish Temple built by King Herod. The U.S. administration denied a request that Trump be accompanied on his visit to the Western Wall by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Other American presidents have visited the Old City of Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, but not while they were serving in this capacity. Barack Obama, for example, visited while he was still a senator running for president but not during his two-term presidency.

Because the Old City was captured during the Six Day War, it is not considered by most of the world to be Israeli territory, which is why most sitting presidents until now have avoided visiting the area.