Vice-President Pence ‘unwelcome in Palestine,’ PA says

Following President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Fatah official says Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with the vice-president in his upcoming visit to the region.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A day after US President Donald Trump’s groundbreaking speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub said Vice President Mike Pence is “unwelcome in Palestine.”

“Such a meeting will not take place,” the Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association announced.

Pence is scheduled to visit Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in next week’s swing through the region. The slated meeting with Abbas is in Bethlehem on December 19.

The vice-president will also address the Knesset, the first senior US official to do so since President George W. Bush in May 2008.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas issued a vociferous condemnation of Trump’s announcement as a violation of “all international and bilateral agreements and resolutions,” saying the move would disqualify the United States from any future role as mediator in the conflict.

White House calls PA decision ‘counterproductive’

As reported by AFP, however, Abbas has not officially backed away from the meeting. On the American side, the administration swiftly issued a reaction on Friday, warning that such a cancellation would “counterproductive.” And a White House aide said that so far, Pence still plans to meet the Palestinian leader.

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Also on Friday, Israeli security forces continued to brace for more Arab rioting in reaction to Trump’s announcement. Palestinians in Judea and Samaria have already thrown dozens – if not hundreds — of rocks and Molotov cocktails in protest, at soldiers in checkpoints and civilians in cars after the PA called for a day of rage on Thursday. The Israeli authorities, however, did not put any restrictions on travel to Jerusalem, specifically to the Temple Mount, and have prepared for possible violence following prayers at Al-Aksa Mosque by reinforcing a greater security presence in the city.