Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the Western Wall - the holiest site where Jews can pray - and left a prayer note there in accordance with Jewish custom.

Located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, the Western Wall is a section of one of four original retaining walls King Herod built in the first century B.C. to support the Temple Mount.

It is also the only remaining portion of the Second Jewish Temple, which stood in Jerusalem until the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. as they put down a Jewish revolt.

Ivanka Trump touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo / AP
Ivanka Trump touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo / AP

It has been U.S. policy for the last 50 years to not recognise East Jerusalem as part of Israel, making a visit to the wall a political minefield.

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But Trump, clad in a navy suit, red striped tie and black kippah, strode into the Western Wall Prayer Plaza in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday before placing his hand on the stone wall and praying for 30 seconds, slipping a note inside a crack between the stones, according to Daily Mail.

Shmuel Rabinovich, the Rabbi of the Western Wall, led the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner through a brief lesson about the location's significance while first lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump looked on.

Jared later followed his father-in-law to the wall while the Rabbi's wife accompanied Ivanka and Melania to the 'women's prayer section' nearby, in keeping with the gender-segregated Orthodox custom.

Ivanka closed her eyes and said her own prayer. The first lady placed her hand on the wall and slipped a note between the stones.

Kushner prayed alongside White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Afterward, President Trump stood in the plaza and read a section of Psalms with the rabbi, joined by Mordechai Elias, the director general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, stands with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, to his right. Photo / AP
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, stands with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, to his right. Photo / AP

Barack Obama visited the Western Wall in 2008, when he was a presidential candidate.

The note he left behind was stolen and later published.

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'Lord,' it read, 'protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.'

The White House has not said what Trump wrote on his own prayer note, but press secretary Sean Spicer told a pool reporter that he would find out.

Jewish Israelis see the entirety of Jerusalem as their 3,000-year-old capital. Old Testament scripture teaches that King David made Jerusalem the capital of a unified kingdom of Israel about 1,000 years before the birth of Christ.

But Palestinians, who are about one-third of modern Jerusalem's residents, claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a yet-to-be-recognized Palestinian nation.

East Jerusalem is also home to al-Aqsa mosque, which is Islam's third-holiest site. The other two, mosques in Mecca and Medina, are both part of modern-day Saudi Arabia.

White House staff and officials pray at the Western Wall after a visit by President Donald Trump. Photo / AP
White House staff and officials pray at the Western Wall after a visit by President Donald Trump. Photo / AP

According to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the 'Buraq Wall' because they believe the Prophet Muhammed tied his winged horse, named 'Buraq,' to the wall during the Prophet's Night of Ascension.

Trump's visit to Israel and the West Bank is meant as a peace overture, and the White House has been careful not to appear partisan in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The president is meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening, and with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday morning.

The White House said last week that Trump would go to the Western Wall without any Israeli politicians in tow. Netanyahu had asked to join the visit.