US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel from 20-23 January, the White House said yesterday, embarking on a tour originally planned for last month after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.
Pence will hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with the US official in protest of the administration’s move on Jerusalem.
Pence, a strong supporter of Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, will also visit the city’s Western Wall and give a speech at the Israeli parliament, it said.
Trump’s decision on Jerusalem and announcement in December that the United States would start the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv led to uproar and protest in the region.
“At President Trump’s direction, the vice president is traveling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the US’ allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations,” said Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence.
He plans to discuss with the three leaders “ways to work together to fight terrorism and improve our national security,” she added.
On 6 December, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to formally recognise a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move the American embassy to the occupied city. The decision was severely condemned by numerous foreign and Arab countries around the world. It has also sparked angry demonstrations across the occupied Palestinian territories and in several Muslim countries.
Israel has cracked down on protesters arresting more than 600 since Trump announced his decision. It has also targeted journalists who have been highlighting its heavy-handed response to unarmed protesters.
Pence postponed a planned visit to Egypt and Israel last month to stay in Washington for a congressional vote on Trump’s tax overhaul plan.
However the move came after political and religious Arab leaders refused to meet him following Trump’s announcement.