Mike Pence: US to Establish Embassy in Jerusalem

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Ismail Haniyeh says Tuesday that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's tour in Israel was "unwelcome", adding that his speech before the Israeli parliament a day earlier "proves the United States of America has a strategic alliance with the Zionist entity".

In a January 22 speech to the Knesset, Israel's national legislature, Pence confirmed that the US government intends to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. Neither Trump nor Pence precluded a two-solution or even a re-division of Jerusalem in order to accommodate a Palestinian capital if that was part of a peace plan accepted by both sides.

Pence noted that Trump has vowed to stop waiving US sanctions under the deal unless the Europeans agreed to strengthen its terms.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. should retain its dominant role as mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rebuffing Palestinian appeals to the European Union to take the reins.

"The extremist positions of this USA administration and the biblical messianic message of Pence not only disqualified the U.S.as a peace broker but created conditions of volatility and instability in the region and beyond", Ashrawi said in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Pence said the USA would back a two-state solution but only if both sides support it. Netanyahu's hard-line government is dominated by opponents to Palestinian statehood, making such a scenario unlikely.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli leaders have objected to the agreement, arguing Iran got too much while giving up too little.

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat described Pence's speech as "a gift to extremists", saying on Twitter it had shown the US administration to be "part of the problem rather than the solution".

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To this way of thinking, Pence's instinctive identification with America's only democratic ally in the region, his robust support for Israel's right to exist, its claim on its ancient capital Jerusalem and the need for its opponents to come to terms with these facts is just another version of the Trump administration's immigration policies or its views on abortion.

The Palestinians are calling for an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, which were all seized by Israel in 1967.

Israel and the United States "are striving together to achieve a true peace, lasting peace, peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians", Netanyahu said.

The renewed bid comes after the recent USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which sparked negative reaction from many countries around the world, primarily in the Middle East.

In a very real sense, the refugee problem is a direct result of Palestinian intransigence and it is therefore highly doubtful that any amount of money can solve this problem as long as this situation remains unaltered.

Pence followed in the footsteps of Trump, who became the first sitting United States president to visit the Western Wall in May a year ago.

But the European partners - onto whom Trump has transferred the burden of renegotiation - have no appetite for this. When the protest intensified the Arab MPs were forcibly removed from the Israeli parliament with the help of security staff. As top diplomat in the Obama administration, Kerry formerly led a major American peace push, which, in 2009, included pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to implement an unprecedented ten-month construction freeze in Jewish communities located in the West Bank.

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