Pence’s Trip to Middle East Overshadowed by Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem

United States Vice President Mike Pence will take a trip to the Middle East next week where he will underscore the U.S. partnership with Israel while seeking to shore up U.S. relations with the Arab world after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Reuters reports.

Pence will spend three days in the region and will stop in Israel and Egypt, where he will meet with the Prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, but will not meet with Palestinian Christians or with officials from the Coptic Christian church, who declined a meeting after Trump’s move. According to officials, Pence would discuss the persecution of Christians, the Jerusalem decision, countering Iran, defeating Islamic State militants and fighting “extremist ideology.” An unnamed official says that Pence does not plan to encourage Egypt to pressure the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

Pence is the first high-level official who will visit the region after Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy and announced that Washington will start the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a center of Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites. The status of the city is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, who were furious over Trump’s move and have declined to meet with Pence. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the full city. Israel says that the whole city is the capital of the country, while Palestinians want the eastern part to be their capital. That part was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

The dates of Pence’s trip have been in flux because of Trump’s U.S. tax overhaul push and the possibility that the Secretary of State would be needed to provide a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. He is now scheduled to depart Washington on Tuesday. Pence will deliver a speech to the Israeli parliament and will visit Jerusalem’s Western Wall.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.