Vice President Mike Pence stated on Tuesday that the moment when the long-awaited U.S. Middle East peace initiative starts is the moment when Palestinians return to the negotiating table. Pence also added that President Donald Trump’s advisers are working on outlines of a plan.
Meanwhile, Palestinians dismissed Washington as a peace broker after President Trump recognized Jrecognizeds Israel’s capital on December 6.
“The White House has been working with our partners in the region to see if we can develop a framework for peace,” Pence said to Reuters reporters in Jerusalem during the last day of his three-day Middle East trip.
“It all just depends now on when the Palestinians are going to come back to the table,” Pence added.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparked many protests in the Middle East and angered Palestinians and other Muslim nations in the area. Western European countries criticised the U.S. president’s move, stating that this could further destabilise the region.
Reuters reports that Pence said he and the president believed the decision, under which the United States also plans to move its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, would improve peacemaking prospects.
Meanwhile, Pence opened the Jerusalem issue during talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday and Jordan’s King Abdullah on Sunday. The vice president stated that the two leaders will try and assure the Palestinians that Washington is eager to restart the peace talks.
“We want them (the Palestinians) to know the door is open. We understand they’re unhappy with that decision but the president wanted me to convey our willingness and desire to be a part of the peace process going forward,” Pence said. He also stated that U.S. State Department plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
According to Reuters, Israeli media have speculated that a 2019 embassy move could help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win reelection in a vote scheduled for November of that year.
When the vice president was asked if he hoped that Netanyahu will be reelected, Pence replied: “I‘m a strong supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, but I don’t get a vote here.”