Pence visits Western Wall amid tensions with Palestinians

25 January, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez

Visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on European Union states to swiftly recognise the state of Palestine amid an global uproar sparked by the U.S. administration's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pence made the announcement January 22 at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

"We have no other choice but to intensify intifada (uprising) and resistance against the USA decision on al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Israel's policy of Judaization of West Bank", Shahab said.

Before the visit, Pence met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and called U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem a "tangible sign" of U.S. commitment to the Jewish state.

However, in a meeting with Egyptian-Ambassador-designate Issam Ashour in Ramallah on Tuesday, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said that "the extremist positions of this US Administration and the biblical messianic message of Pence not only disqualified the US as a peace broker but created conditions of volatility and instability in the region and beyond".

Throughout his visit, Pence expressed a strong connection to Israel, most visibly at the Western Wall.

The embassy is to be opened in an existing USA facility that will be "retrofitted" to meet safety and security requirements, Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters in Washington.

The vice president also pressed European leaders to heed Trump's call to forge a follow-up agreement to the Iran nuclear deal established under President Barack Obama's administration. Pence plans to stop over and visit Jordan and Egypt.

Pence says that the deal is not fixed and that in the coming months, the United States will "withdraw from the deal".


How did any sentiments such as Pence's words on Jewish rights or even a recognition of the fact that Jerusalem is Israel's capital come to be seen as just another front in America's increasingly bitter partisan wars?

Israel and the United States "are striving together to achieve a true peace, lasting peace, peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians", Netanyahu said.

Palestinian officials have criticized the Jerusalem's recognition as the capital of Israel and have rejected to meet with Vice-President Pence.

Pence also said the US would support a two-state approach which covers the establishment of an independent Palestine beside the state of Israel.

"In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem - and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year", said Pence, part-way through a Middle East tour.

The most likely location is in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, in a modern building that now handles US consular affairs like issuing passports, birth certificates and travel visas, said a USA official, who wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Back in June, the Jerusalem District Court sided with dozens of Arab plaintiffs who sued the PA for health and mental damages after its security forces arrested and imprisoned them in detention dungeons where the plaintiffs were tortured, their healthy teeth were pulled and urine was injected into their veins by PA interrogators.

The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations. This is his fourth trip to Israel. When the protest intensified the Arab MPs were forcibly removed from the Israeli parliament with the help of security staff.

Welcoming Pence to the parliament, Netanyahu said he was the first U.S. vice president to have been accorded the honor.

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