Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has cancelled his scheduled December meeting with Vice President Mike Pence over fury at President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Pence, who will visit the region during the Hanukkah holiday, was set to meet with the Palestinian leader in Bethlehem on December 19th. However, a PA spokesman said Saturday that the meeting would not happen because the US had “crossed red lines” with its landmark Jerusalem declaration on Wednesday.
The Vice President’s office responded on Sunday, calling Abbas’s decision to “again” reject an opportunity for peace “unfortunate,” but affirming that Pence would continue to work towards an agreement.
“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” said Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah.
However, “The Vice President very much looks forward to traveling to the region to meet with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi,” she told Fox News.
Trump’s announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city was celebrated and welcomed by Israel, but immediately condemned and rejected by the Palestinians, who took to the streets in massive riots.
Abbas called the announcement “condemned and unacceptable” and said that the measures deliberately undermined peace efforts.
“[They] represent a declaration of the United States’ withdrawal from undertaking the role it has played over the past decades in sponsoring the peace process,” he said in a televised speech.