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Jordan's King Abdullah tells Pence of concern over Jerusalem

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence disembarks the plane upon his arrival at Amman military airport, Jordan, Saturday, Jan 20, 2018. This is the second leg of his Middle East tour that will include Israel.
AP Photo/Raad Adayleh
From Jordan, Pence will take off for Israel where he can expect a warm welcome

Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday voiced "concerns" over Washington's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as US Vice President Mike Pence visited Amman during an uncomfortable three-country tour of the Middle East.

Abdullah, a key US ally, said he had "continuously voiced over the past year... my concerns regarding the US decision on Jerusalem that does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian Israeli conflict."

"Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews," he added. "It is key to peace in the region. And key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of the root causes of radicalization." He added that Jordan was intensifying its efforts to reach a comprehensive and just solution to the conflict.

Pence arrived in Jordan late Saturday night, after kicking off his long-delayed tour in Egypt, where he reaffirmed that Trump remains "firmly committed" to restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process despite the Palestinians' rejection of the US as an appropriate mediator. 

Some 70 people rallied against the visit outside the US embassy in Amman, shouting slogans against the Jerusalem decision and calling on the Jordanian government not to receive the US Vice President.

"America is the head of the snake," they chanted, while others held banners reading: "The envoy (Pence) of the Zionist American right-wing is not welcome."

KHALIL MAZRAAWI (AFP)

Speaking to reporters accompanying him on the Egyptian leg of his tour, Pence said that he had "heard out" President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's concerns over Washington's change of policy on Jerusalem, and assured him that the Trump remains committed to the status quo of the city's flashpoint holy sites.

Sisi's office said the president had stressed Egypt's support for a two-state peace settlement and "the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with east Jerusalem as capital".

The leaders of both Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel, would be key players if US mediators ever manage to get a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process off the ground, as Trump says he wants.

Pence called Trump's Jerusalem move a "historic decision" but said the United States respected Jordan's role as custodian of the city's holy sites.

Abdullah said he was "encouraged" by Trump's stated commitment to finding a solution to the decades-long conflict, which he said was a "potential major source of instability".

KHALED DESOUKI (POOL/AFP)

From Jordan, Pence will take off for Israel where he can expect a warm welcome.

He is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and deliver a speech to parliament.

Pence -- himself a devout Christian -- will also visit the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism in Jerusalem's Old City, and pay his respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

Pence is not scheduled to meet any Palestinian leaders, who were outraged by Trump's Jerusalem decision and vowed to snub the Vice President's visit -- which was originally slated for December.

Pence had been due to travel to the region in December but controversy over President Donald Trump's decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem saw many planned meetings cancelled.

AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi

While the deadly protests that erupted in the Palestinian territories at the time have subsided, concerns are mounting over the future of the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees. UNRWA.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its united capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

The State Department has begun to plan the sensitive move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, a process that US diplomats say may take years to complete.

This week reports surfaced that Washington may temporarily designate the US consulate general in Jerusalem as the embassy while the search for a secure and practical site for a long-term mission continues.

This could prove just as controversial as building a new embassy, however, as the building currently serves as the US mission to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

And the facility sits astride the "Green Line" that divides Jerusalem.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to make a decision on either a permanent or interim location for the mission.

"That is a process that takes, anywhere in the world, time. Time for appropriate design, time for execution. It is a matter of years and not weeks or months," he said.

(Staff with agencies)

Comments

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at the end of the day Abdullah is blaming the Jews for all the Muslims problems even though all the violence I'm the middle East is caused by Muslims, especially their 1400 year war against themselves. screw Jordan. end their involvement in the terror dome but on the temple mount.

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