President Donald Trump placed a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
Trump later called it a “great honor” to visit the wall, saying, “I can see a much deeper path, friendship with Israel.”
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.
At the Western Wall, Trump, wearing a black yarmulke, stood alone with his hand on the wall for several moments before tucking a note deep between the cracks.
Many visitors to the Western Wall leave prayer notes in the wall’s crevices. Those notes are collected periodically and buried at the nearby Mount of Olives cemetery. When Barack Obama visited the wall as a candidate for president and placed a note, it was later taken by a seminary student and sold to an Israeli newspaper, which published a photograph of it.
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.
On Tuesday, Trump visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial, where he left a note.
The Western Wall is not officially recognized as Israeli territory, and the Trump administration has not been clear about whether they believe it is part of Israel.
George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and 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 Benjamin Netanyahu did not join Trump for his visit. The two leaders and their wives will have dinner at the Prime Minister’s residence Monday evening.