Top Israeli rabbi prays for Trump's recovery

Jerusalem (AFP) –

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A top Israeli rabbi on Monday prayed during a ceremony at Jerusalem's Western Wall for US President Donald Trump's recovery, after he was hospitalised with the novel coronavirus.

Trump won many plaudits in the Jewish state after he announced in December 2017 that the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a major reversal of US policy.

In May of that same year, he became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are allowed to pray in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

On Monday, Western Wall rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz prayed that "God send a full recovery to the American president, Donald John son of Fred," during the Birkat Cohanim ceremony (Priestly Blessing in Hebrew).

The ceremony, an annual event, usually draws tens of thousands of people, but only a few guests were allowed this year, due to restrictions imposed by Israel to contain a Covid-19 spike.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, himself a descendent of the Cohanim caste of priests, and Israel's two chief rabbis were among those present, according to an AFP photographer.

Friedman, a lawyer and an enthusiastic supporter of the US embassy's 2018 move to Jerusalem, said in a tweet that only 20 people attended the ceremony.

Friedman has a long history of supporting West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

"I will pray for God's mercy and healing upon all those throughout the world afflicted with Covid-19," he wrote.