Published: Tue, January 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

Pence meets Jordan king on trip clouded by Jerusalem move

Vice President Mike Pence told the Israeli parliament Monday that the United States will open an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019 to make good on recognizing the disputed holy city as Israel's capital.

Palestinians leaders boycotted Pence's visit amid continued anger at the U.S. decision last month to relocate the embassy and recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Arab members of the Knesset protested, holding up posters showing images of Al Aqsa Mosque inscribed with "Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine".

So said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening during a speech he made at the Ambassador's Conference that took place in the Foreign Ministry shortly before the arrival of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence said Trump's declaration, which most of America's main allies beyond the Middle East have also criticised, provided new opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Pence was earlier given a warm welcome to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, greeted by an honour guard as the U.S. national anthem played.

"The United States has chosen fact over fiction", Pence said during a speech Monday addressing Israel's Knesset, or parliament.

The US President's announcement was condemned by 128 countries in a United Nations General Assembly vote in December, with nine countries supporting the decision and 35 abstaining, amid threats from the US to pull funding from the world body.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will call on the European Union to officially recognize the state of Palestine during a Monday meeting with the bloc.

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Netanyahu thanked Pence and President Donald Trump for their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In Jordan, Pence visited US troops on the Syrian border.

The EU parliament, in 2014, overwhelming backed the recognition of a Palestinian state "in principle", but said such a move "should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks". "You're on the right side of history", Netanyahu said to Pence, implying that the Iranian people will remember those who stood by them.

Pence had planned to pay a visit to the region during the Christmas period, but after Trump's decision a series of Christian community leaders declined to meet with him.

However, Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, which Israel captured and annexed in 1967.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the Palestinian members of the Knesset had warned that they would protest against Pence's speech.

Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, said that Pence's "messianic discourse" was "a gift to extremists".

Mr Pence's visit is the final leg of a trip that has included talks in Egypt and Jordan.

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