Why Is Vice President Pence In Jerusalem

Elias Hubbard
January 23, 2018

When President Trump last month appeared before cameras and announced the USA was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and beginning to prepare for a new embassy in the city, Pence stood behind Trump - in more ways than one.

During a meeting with Mr Pence earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked: "This is the first time that I stand here where both leaders can say those three words: Israel's capital, Jerusalem".

In a statement, Pence said it was his "great honor to be in Israel's capital, Jerusalem", a reference to President Donald Trump's December 9 pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty over the city.

Trump had said that the embassy's move should not hamper peace talks and also threatened to shutter an office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Washington as well as cut American donations to the United Nations agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

The fourth item stipulates that the USA administration will announce a "common security concept for the State of Israel and the State of Palestine as partners in peace".

On Monday, he became the first United States vice president to speak at the Israeli Knesset, but his speech was initially interrupted by a group of politicians with the Joint Arab List alliance who voiced their anger over Washington's controversial move. Netanyahu called Trump's Jerusalem decision "historic" and thanked Pence for his part in the embassy's move.

Pence, who is visiting Israel for two days after brief stops in Egypt and Jordan, received repeated standing ovations in the Knesset.

"Truth must be said and the truth is that Israel and Jerusalem belong to the Jewish people", Regev wrote.

White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, US Ambassador David Friedman and the Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, joined the ceremony, and Pence chatted briefly with Israeli soldiers before beginning his meeting with Netanyahu.

Mr Abbas on Monday reasserted his commitment to reaching a negotiated deal and called for the European Union to play a greater political role in the peace process that has been effectively frozen since 2014. Pence made no reference to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, let alone to the occupation.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, highlighted the "scary" tone of Pence's address, noting the American vice president's Christian Evangelical background.

Ahmed Tibi, another lawmaker from the party, said they were boycotting Pence because "Trump's speech on Jerusalem and Pence's own positions, as Pence is one of those pushing for the U.S.to relocate the embassy [to Jerusalem] and because of his outrageous claim that they have taken Jerusalem off the table". "I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible", Duckworth said.

Of the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he said, "The United States has chosen fact over fiction".

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint Arab list, said it was a democratic right to boycott Pence's speech.

He said that in addition to speaking to Netanyahu about Israel's shared goals and common interests, "I also am here hopeful, hopeful that we are at the dawn of a new era of renewed discussions to achieve a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict that has affected this region".

It prompted the Palestinians to cut ties with the Trump administration, but Pence urged them to return to negotiations.

Trump earlier this month cancelled a trip to London to open the new embassy, saying he did not want to endorse a bad deal agreed by the Obama administration to sell the old one for "peanuts".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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