White House says Palestinian snub of VP Pence would be 'counterproductive'
Shahar Azran/World Jewish Congress
The White House warned Thursday that canceling a planned meeting between Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Vice President Mike Pence in the wake of the US policy shift on Jerusalem would be "counterproductive."
After a senior figure in Abbas' Fatah party said the president would not be welcome in Ramallah, a White House aide said Pence "still plans to meet with Abbas as scheduled" and "believes it would be counterproductive for him to pull out of the meeting."
Pence is due to travel to Israel between December 16-17 and give a speech to Israel's parliament, a visit that has taken on extra significance in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Earlier, senior Fatah figure Jibril Rajoub told Saudi television that Pence would not be welcome in Ramallah, a clear diplomatic snub to the US administration.
"The American vice president is not welcome in Palestine," Rajoub later told AFP.
He also signaled that Abbas would not meet with Pence during his planned visit later this month.
"And President Abbas will not welcome him because of the statements he made" about Jerusalem.
Abbas has not made similar comments and his office could not immediately be reached.
Abbas welcomed Trump during his visit to the region in May and again in New York in September, and the two have had frequent phone contact.
However after the US President's speech yesterday, Abbas said he had "withdrawn" Washington from its role as a peace-broker and his top diplomat accused the US of having "destroyed" the two state solution.
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The Pal were counting on the US SD to derail Trump.