On last day in Israel, Pence visits Western Wall, Yad Vashem


Blaming the moribund state of peace talks entirely on Abbas, Haley hinted that unless he radically changes his approach, the U.S. isn't interested in engaging with Palestinians as long as he remains their leader. This is the first time that I am standing when both leaders can say those words: "'Israel's capital Jerusalem'". It also broke with decades of US policy that the city's status must be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. However, for Lebanese journalist Elie Fayad, "the question everybody is asking now is this: Does this decision to transfer implicitly include an American decision to recognise the annexation of East Jerusalem, conquered with the West Bank, the Golan and Sinai, in Israel's 1967 blitzkrieg?" The UNRWA agency is funded nearly entirely by voluntary contributions from U.N. states and the United states is the largest contributor.

Pence said he was grateful to be representing Trump and that his decision to designate Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would "create an opportunity to move on in good faith negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority". "Palestinian rights are not up to any bargain and Jerusalem is not for sale". And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.

Despite the close to four-week delay of the Pence visit, Abbas still declined to meet with the U.S. official.

Trump said instead of forestalling peace talks, the Jerusalem decision in fact makes the situation easier as he claimed the issue is no longer a sticking point.

In New York, the United States ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, gave a speech that hinted the timetable for talks might not be anytime soon and contained a clear ultimatum. Israel's government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognized internationally.

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Following that meeting, in remarks to reporters, Pence called it "my great honor, on behalf of the president of the United States, to be in Israel's capital, Jerusalem, following on the president's historic decision". Speaking in Davos, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said only the United States could broker a peace deal.

What led the American president to break with this tradition so abruptly and create such a gray area, knowing that the United States, as well as the entire worldwide community, still consider the territories conquered by Israel in 1967 as "Occupied Territories"? "As the honest broker, as a facilitator, there's no other global body that would do it", Netanyahu said.

It prompted the Palestinians to cut ties with the Trump administration, but Pence urged them to return to negotiations. "But they want to make peace, and I hope the Palestinians want to make peace, and if they do, everybody's going to be very happy in the end". Earlier at the World Economic Forum, Jordanian King Abdullah said Jerusalem had to be part of a comprehensive solution. King Abdullah's Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Jordan particularly sensitive to any changes of status there. Israel denies its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks.

During a joint press conference with Abbas in Brussels, Frederica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, promised Abbas support, especially on the two-state solution approach, but insisted that the EU would still want to work with the Americans on the matter.