Pence says he's proud to be in 'Israel's capital, Jerusalem'

Pence says he's proud to be in 'Israel's capital, Jerusalem'

Pence began his visit to Israel on Monday by meeting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke with European Union leaders at their headquarters in Brussels to enlist their support to recognize a state of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its capital.

'In the weeks ahead our administration will advance its plan to open the United States embassy in Jerusalem.

US Vice President Mike Pence pledged to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by the end of 2019 on Monday, January 22, in a speech to Israel's parliament that saw Arab lawmakers expelled after they shouted in protest.

Several members of the Israeli parliament stood up to protest at the beginning of Pence's speech, according to a pool report. East Jerusalem, he said, would have to be the capital of a Palestinian state co-existing with a "secure and recognized Israel".

Many countries believe Jerusalem should ultimately be shared between Israel and a future Palestinian state and so are unwilling to make decisions about recognition of its status before a comprehensive peace settlement is agreed.

"The leadership that President Trump has provided, the pressure that we placed on North Korea is exactly the reason that the Kim regime is re-engaging", Pence said.

"What would be ideal would be to undertake a peace initiative together with the Americans", Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said. He called Trump's Jerusalem declaration "a slap in the face".

"The Palestinians are looking to move away from a US-led process to a more a multilateral process and there does appear to be a greater willingness on the EU side to look at such a process", said Hugh Lovatt, Israel Palestine Project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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But offering an European Union association agreement to the Palestinians was also fraught with difficulties, while Germany's Roth expressed some reservation in the closed-door meeting and Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the European Union would need to offer something similar to Israel, diplomats said.

"By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction - and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace", he continued.

Mr. Trump has also threatened to shutter an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington and cut American donations to the United Nations agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

Despite the pandemonium, Pence expressed hope in an interview with The Associated Press after the speech that the Palestinians would re-enter negotiations.

President Donald Trump announced the plan to relocate the embassy on December 9, which prompted widespread condemnation in the Arab world for derailing any attempt at peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Pressed if he was serious, Netanyahu said: "No, but we want to do it".

"And as President Trump has made clear, the United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a usable nuclear weapon". Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site when he travelled to Jerusalem in May 2017. In the West Bank city of Nablus, dozens of Palestinians chanted against Trump and stepped on pictures of Pence in a sign of anger. "Whoever is not ready to talk with the Americans about peace - does not want peace", he said at a meeting of ambassadors in Jerusalem.

A small group of Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem protested Pence's arrival by burning posters with his image.