Jordan King tells Pence of concern

Amman : Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Sunday voiced concern over Washington’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as US Vice President Mike Pence visited Amman during an uncomfortable Middle East tour.

Arab outrage over President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem had prompted the cancellation of several planned meetings ahead of Pence’s trip, originally scheduled for December.

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
radicalisation.”

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

The US move to recognise the city as Israel’s capital broke with decades of international consensus that the city’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its united capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israelis and Palestinians alike interpreted Trump’s move as Washington taking Israel’s side in the dispute over the city.

Pence will head to Israel later Sunday for a two-day visit, during which he can expect a warm welcome from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

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

He will also deliver a speech to Israel’s parliament on Monday. A coalition of Arab parties said Saturday it would boycott the address, calling Pence “dangerous and messianic”.

The US vice president arrived in Jordan on Saturday evening from Egypt, where he met President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a key Trump ally.  

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