Pence headed to Middle East with focus on combating terrorism, religious persecution

Casey Dawson
January 9, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Israel, Egypt and Jordan later this month, his office announced on Monday, rescheduling a trip postponed after President Trump's controversial decision last month to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"This thing will become a reality". Palestinians can't resist and we don't want to go to war.

The visit, now scheduled for January 19-23, had been delayed due to unrest in the region following Trump's decision to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The statement pointed out that Egypt sponsored a United Nations resolution opposing the USA recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, despite threats by Washington to reduce aid.

The New York Times said Saturday Cairo allegedly instructed talk show hosts to persuade viewers to accept the US move. "Hamas would be reborn once more".

"The Times' report claims that Captain Ashraf al-Kholi is an officer with the Egyptian General Intelligence without presenting its readers with the slightest evidence as to the truth of this piece of information or that a person by this name exists in the first place", the statement said.

The statements attributed to Kholi "can fit in with the desire to control the flames", he said. "We have enough on our plate".

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"At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won't be so much different from Ramallah".

Pence will leave on January 19 and arrive in Egypt on January 20 to meet with Egyptian President Abed Fattah el-Sisi before traveling to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah on January 21.

In response to Trump's move, Egypt publicly said the decision was a violation of worldwide resolutions on the city's status.

When making his announcement, Trump added the caveat that Jerusalem's status would be determined in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

Pence is no longer scheduled to visit the West Bank or meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Pence was initially scheduled to meet with in December. The White House decision on Jerusalem also prompted leading Muslim and Christian clerics in Egypt to refuse to meet with the vice president in Cairo. On Saturday its foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, participated in an Arab meeting to underscore support for east Jerusalem being the Palestinian capital.

Many U.S. allies disagreed with Trump's decision, as no other country has its embassy in Jerusalem, under a long-standing global consensus the city's status should be decided in a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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