US Vice President Mike Pence is postponing his trip to Israel amid on-going tensions, following the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last week, Walla News reported today.
A Knesset spokesman confirmed that Pence’s arrival, originally scheduled for this Sunday, was postponed until at least Wednesday. Whilst Israeli media has reported that the delay is due to tax reform issues in US Congress, sources close to US officials told Haaretz that the Trump administration is “stuck” on how to handle the fallout from their announcement on Jerusalem.
Pence has been side-lined by Palestinian leaders since last week, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to take his calls and cancelling their proposed meeting during his visit.
“There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine. The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision,” Abbas’ diplomatic adviser Majdi Al-Khaldi said on Monday.
The White House responded to the Palestinian reaction, stating on Sunday that the Palestinians were “walking away” from a peace deal, and further claiming yesterday that their outrage at the US decision is the kind of response that “ has prevented peace for decades”.
Local church leaders in the Palestinian territories have also expressed their anger at the US, and Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman has said that Pence is not scheduled to visit the city and there are no plans to welcome him.
Arab-Israeli lawmakers have said they will boycott Pence’s speech in the Knesset, “in order to send a clear message to the US administration and the world that there are citizens here that vehemently oppose Trump’s announcement” on Jerusalem.
The international community has been unanimous in its condemnation of Trump’s decision and hundreds of demonstrations have taken place in the Palestinian territories and around the world.
Yesterday, 57 Muslim majority countries also moved to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, adhering to the planned divide of the city laid out in the two-state solution. Abbas further stated that the US has disqualified itself from the peace process, calling for the UN to act as a future mediator.