US Vice President Pence to Visit Middle East in January


Pence's trip to the Middle East will insert him into a debate over the role of the any future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and follows Trump's apparent threats to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in USA aid to the Palestinian Authority. The president last week questioned why the US should make "any of these massive future payments" when the Palestinians are "no longer willing to talk peace".

The vice president will meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, said the report.

Pence's agenda in Israel includes meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, an address to the Knesset and visits to the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

The statement also said that Pence would discuss the need to "assist persecuted religious minorities" during his trip.

When making his announcement, Trump added the caveat that Jerusalem's status would be determined in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

Pence will visit the Kingdom as part of a regional tour that will also take him to Egypt and Israel.

More news: Lady Gaga & Anna Paquin lead the cry for President Oprah

The global community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the full city.

"At President Trump's direction, the vice president is traveling to the Middle East to reaffirm our commitment to work with the U.S.'s allies in the region to defeat radicalism that threatens future generations", Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the worldwide community.

So did Saudi Arabia, even though Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman privately tried to convince Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept a Palestinian state without a capital in Jerusalem - a fact confirmed to The New York Times by Arab, European and Palestinian Authority officials who quoted Abbas. Instead, he said, preoccupied by concerns about their own stability, the Arab leaders signalled that - while they may not like the decision - they "will find a way to work with it", and "with a White House that is prepared to break with what had been taboos in American foreign policy". Pence is expected to meet only with el-Sissi, a leading Trump ally, while in Egypt.

The United Nations does not recognize Israeli control over Jerusalem. He reportedly backed out of a planned interview with the Times.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal capital, while Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognised internationally. "All the entities in charge have expressed in word and deed the inalienable position on Jerusalem in the U.N. and other global organizations with disregard for the threats of the cut aid to countries including Egypt over the U.N. Jerusalem vote".