US Vice President Mike Pence has begun a visit to Israel in the latest leg of a Middle East tour which is his first since President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Pence is sure of a warm reception when he addresses the Israeli Parliament later on Monday (Jan 22). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already praised him as a “great friend of Israel”.
“I will discuss two issues with him: peace and security. On peace, I have a message for Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas): There is no alternative for American leadership in the diplomatic process. Whoever is not ready to talk with the Americans about peace, does not want peace,” warned Netanyahu .
The Palestinians are boycotting Pence over Trump’s Jerusalem declaration . Their President Mahmoud Abbas has called it a ” slap in the face” and rejected Washington as an honest broker in any future peace talks.
Before arriving in Israel Pence had held a tense meeting in Jordan in which King Abdullah appealed for a US effort to “rebuild trust and confidence” in the region.
At an earlier meeting Pence is said to have encouraged Egypt’s leader, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to pressure the Palestinians to return to peace talks saying he backed a two state solution if both sides wanted it.