March 21st 2011
by Corky Siemaszko and Nina Mandell
Sarah Palin had a possibly embarrassing moment during her visit in Israel on Monday.
The former vice presidential candidate had to abruptly turn back from her trip to the Christian holy site of Bethlehem, which was supposed to be the first stop of her day, according to British newspaper The Telegraph.
But according to the newspaper, she may have not realized what she had to do to visit the holy site, which is in the Palestinian city in the West Bank. A defense ministry official confirmed to the newspaper that she made no formal request to visit the occupied territory, despite that being standard procedure for any foreign dignitary.
The hiccup didn't stop her from continuing to enjoy her tour throughout the country.
On her first visit to Jerusalem, the former Alaska governor lamented that Jews can't pray openly at the Temple Mount.
"Why are you apologizing all the time?" Palin asked the Israelis who took her and husband Todd on a tour of the sacred site, the Jerusalem Post reported.
It was not immediately clear how Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz and Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon responded to Palin's puzzler.
But the issue of public prayer is touchy at the Temple Mount because the site is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Jews venerate the spot as the historic site of their ancient temples. One of its outer walls - the Western Wall - is one of the most visited holy sites in Judaism.
For Muslims, it is home to the Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa mosque and believed to be the site where the Prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven.
Palin, a failed GOP vice-presidential candidate, arrived in Israel on Sunday after a visit to India.
"Israel is absolutely beautiful and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith and I am so grateful to get to be here," said Palin, a Born Again Christian. "I'm very thankful to know that the Israeli and American link will grow in strength as we seek peace along with you."
Palin, who is due to meet later Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is the latest GOP possible presidential candidate to seek an audience with the Israeli leader.
The former Alaska governor has been criticized for being a lightweight when it comes to foreign policy.
Her inexperience was on display over the weekend when she accused President Obama of "dithering" over the Libyan crisis - as the U.S. and its allies began bombing the Moammar Khadafy's forces.