Pence Seeks to Ease Jerusalem Tensions


Vice President Mike Pence referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced the United States will open its embassy there by the end of 2019 - escalating the controversial move's timeline.

Members of the Joint List coalition of Arab parties had pledged to boycott the Pence speech in protest at a December 6 decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Netanyahu thanked Pence and President Donald Trump for their decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In fact, the Arab members of Israel's Knesset interrupted Pence just as his speech began.

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, shake hands with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

Yet a temporary plan that has been presented to Tillerson would see an existing USA consular building in the western part of Jerusalem designated as the interim embassy until the new one is built, three US officials said.

On Sunday, the Jordanian king urged Pence to "rebuild trust and confidence" in the two-state solution, with eastern Jerusalem serving as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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Pence's visit to Jordan is part of a four-day tour regional tour, which started on Saturday with a visit to Egypt.

Mr Abbas last week criticised the efforts of Mr Trump to resolve the long-running conflict, which he described as the "slap of the century" and claimed that Israel had sunk the so-called Oslo accords that underpin the stalled peace process. However, that position angered the Palestinians, with whom Pence has no plans to meet, and which also caused displeasure among the Arab allies of the United States. "Peace can only come through dialogue".

He vowed that the United States would band together with Israel to fight Iran and said the United States would never allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon. Ms Mogherini restated the EU's support for the two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital and opposition to Israeli settlement building.

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Pence - himself a devout Christian - will also visit the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism in Jerusalem's Old City, and pay his respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in the city. White House Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, U.S. 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.