Pence says US Embassy in Jerusalem will open next year

23 Enero, 2018, 01:11 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Emma Johnson

Vice President Pence is the highest-level USA official to visit Israel since President Donald Trump's trip to the region last May, and the first American vice president to address the legislature.

After meeting Netanyahu, Pence will address the Israeli parliament, whose Arab members have said they would boycott the event. Seemingly undaunted, Pence announced the projected embassy move date before Israeli lawmakers, indicating the White House has no plans to back down.

In Jerusalem, Pence repeated Trump's view that the United States will support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "if both sides agree".

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to European Union member states "swiftly to recognise the state of Palestine". Pence, who traveled to the Middle East despite a USA government shutdown, made no statement on arrival in Israel.

Pence said the USA would back a two-state solution but only if both sides support it. Netanyahu's hard-line government is dominated by opponents to Palestinian statehood, making such a scenario unlikely.

He was responding to reports that Trump last week in a private meeting made vulgar and disparaging remarks about immigration from countries in Africa and Haiti and said the US should welcome more immigration from countries like Norway. The United Nations formally voted to reject the announcement a short time later, earning a sharp rebuke from USA officials, including ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, who threatened repercussions for those breaking with the United States.

Nine EU governments already recognise Palestine.

In Amman on Sunday, Jordan's King Abdullah II, one of America's key allies, said: "Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews..."

Mr Abbas says America can no longer serve as mediator in Middle East peace talks.

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem broke with global consensus on the best way forward in Middle East peace moves, and his freeze on some funding to the Palestinians has angered many in the region and sparked financial uncertainty at the United Nations agency working in the territories.

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Pence himself received a mixed reception in Israel.

Pence is the most senior USA official to visit Jerusalem since President Donald Trump's announcement that his government recognized the city as Israel's capital and would move its embassy there, upending seven decades of U.S. policy on the issue.

But others are more cautious and a senior European Union official said for now launching talks on an association remained "something we should aim towards".

Mr Pence said that the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital did not preclude the idea that it could one day be divided as part of a peace deal.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump Administration will begin preparations in the coming weeks to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, said the group will not provide a "silent backdrop" to a man he called a 'dangerous racist'.

"Proud to lead the Joint List in strong, legitimate protest, against the Trump-Netanyahu regime's exaltation of racism and hatred, who speak of peace exclusively as lip service", Odeh wrote.

"Our protest today at the Knesset was done in the name of all citizens opposing the occupation and dreaming of peace".

The lawmakers brandished signs saying "Jerusalem Is The Capital of Palestine", apparently a response to President Donald Trump announcing that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Malki told AFP that while the Palestinian Authority was "very serious" about such an agreement, they also expected to be formally recognised as a state.

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