United States embassy in Jerusalem will open far earlier than expected

Lester Mason
January 23, 2018

None of this is a good sign for any chance of a peace plan that started off a year ago to be brokered by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, but apparently went off the edge of a cliff when the American President suddenly recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel and pledged to move the American Embassy there.

Mr Pence's remarks further alienate the Palestinians who have said Mr Trump's announcement disqualifies the USA as a mediator in any peace process.

"We raised the slogan that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine in response to Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".

But Mogherini said she still wanted to work with the United States on Middle East peace talks and had discussed ways to restart them late a year ago with Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "The door's open. President Trump is absolutely committed to doing everything the United States can to achieve a peace agreement that brings an end to decades of conflict".

Israeli Arab lawmakers were ejected from parliament as they stood to protest the speech from the rostrum by Pence.

Mogherini expressed her support for Abbas' position, after having criticized President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

As Pence spoke, they heckled him and unfurled signs saying, "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine". Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Twitter that Pence's speech showed the US administration was part of the problem rather than the solution.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said that the Trump administration's stance on Jerusalem disqualifies the USA as a mediator.

While nine European Union governments including Sweden and Poland already recognise Palestine, the 28-nation bloc says such recognition must come as part of a peace settlement.

After Pence's speech, Edelstein gave the vice president a gift basket of products made in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, including wine from two wineries, a sesame-based fudge-like treat called halvah and the savory condiment tahini.

In Amman, Jordan's widely-admired King Abdullah II delivered some pointed remarks at a lunch, warning the vice president that he "had continuously voiced over the past year, in my meetings with Washington, my concerns regarding the USA decision on Jerusalem that does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict".

The most likely location is in Jerusalem's Arnona neighbourhood in a modern building that now handles USA consular affairs like issuing passports, birth certificates and travel visas, said a US official, who wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Press Association, representing worldwide journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, protested what it called "clear ethnic profiling" by Israeli security officials of a journalist of Palestinian descent from Finland's state broadcaster covering Pence's visit.

A small group of Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bethlehem protested Pence's arrival by burning posters with his image.

"We are keen on continuing the way of negotiations", Abbas said.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to European Union member states "swiftly to recognise the state of Palestine".

The EU has left the issue of whether to recognize the state of Palestine to member states themselves, most of which have wavered over such a decision.

"The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon", said Pence. "The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day", Pence said.

The move has angered Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city, and Arab states in the region.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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