USA vice president confirms visit to Israel amid Jerusalem tensions

10 January, 2018, 02:03 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Israeli troops in Nablus

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Jordan, Egypt and Israel on behalf of President Donald Trump later this month, Pence's office said in a statement Monday.

The visit, now scheduled for January 19-23, had been delayed due to unrest in the region following Trump's decision to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In addition to the call with Megahed, three other audio recordings of strikingly similar telephone conversations with the same intelligence agent, Capt. Kholi, were all provided to The New York Times by an intermediary supportive of the Palestinian cause and opposed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Pence's spokesperson said the tour is aimed at reaffirming the United States' commitment to work with its allies in the region to defeat radicalism.

Observers say Pence's visit may provoke further clashes and unrest in the region.

Pence is not expected to meet with the Palestinians, who have sought to make Israel-annexed east Jerusalem their capital.

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Outwardly, Egypt has maintained a strict policy of condemning Trump's bombshell decision, which sent shock waves throughout the Middle East, sparking protests and violence. He told the hosts that instead of condemning the decision, they should persuade their viewers to accept it. Palestinians, he suggested, should content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that now houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah.

The worldwide community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the full city.

But efforts to harness improved Arab-Israel relations to push a peace deal have been at least temporarily derailed by Trump's Jerusalem recognition, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas warning last month he would "no longer accept" any peace plan proposed by the United States. The White House decision on Jerusalem also prompted leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt to refuse to meet with the vice-president in Cairo.

Many U.S. allies disagreed with Trump's decision, as no other country has its embassy in Jerusalem under a long-standing global consensus that the city's status should be decided in a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The trip to Jordan will put Pence face to face with Abdullah, an American ally who has warned that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has threatened the resumption of any peace talks.

"I am friends with Ashraf and we talk all the time", the Times reported Megahed as saying in the interview. Jordan has a large population of Palestinian origin, and the king serves as guardian of the third holiest site of Islam, located in east Jerusalem.

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